The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is now increasing its efforts to prevent falls in the workplace. While fall prevention and protection have always been a top priority of OSHA, the administration is launching a new initiative to address this national problem. Use our guide below to understand the May 2023 OSHA program, what it means for your business and the steps you can take to comply with the new program.
What Is the New OSHA Initiative?
In May 2023, OSHA announced its new National Emphasis Program dedicated to addressing and preventing falls in the workplace. This program is applicable to people working at all heights and in all industries. Through this program, OSHA will establish guidelines and additional information for locating and inspecting fall hazards. The National Emphasis Program also focuses on educating employers on workplace safety through various outreach programs.
What Will OSHA’s National Emphasis Program Outreach Look Like?
Part of the National Emphasis Program is nationwide outreach. While OSHA will continue to issue public announcements and communication nationally, regional offices will implement their own outreach efforts as well. Area and regional offices will issue comprehensive fall prevention information 90 days prior to the first round of inspections under the new National Emphasis Program.
After the initial 90-day outreach, local offices are required to continue outreach efforts at least once a quarter. Depending on your location, your closest office may implement additional outreach programs throughout the quarter.
Individual outreach efforts may look different from region to region and quarter to quarter, but some outreach activities you may see include:
- News releases: You may see letters, news releases or articles regarding the National Emphasis Program. These written materials will likely contain implementation updates and further information on the details of the National Emphasis Program.
- Seminars: Employer groups, trade associations, worker groups and national and local unions may be invited to attend informational sessions or seminars to bring awareness to the new program.
- Informational materials: These materials, like flyers, brochures and posters, can be distributed to local licensing or permitting agencies, manufacturers, industry associations, roofing companies and more, so general information about the National Emphasis Program is always available.
- Collaborations: Collaborations with organizations such as Voluntary Protection Programs and Alliance Program participants may occur to share success stories and further prove the effectiveness of fall prevention.
- Consultation programs: OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program helps employers identify and implement the best fall prevention safety for their worksite.
Why Is OSHA’s National Emphasis Program Important?
Falls are the number one cause of workplace deaths and serious injuries. Out of the 5,190 fatal workplace injuries in 2021, 680 were related to falls.
Since many events can cause or lead to a fall, it makes sense why falls are so common. For example, falls can be caused by:
- Stepping into a hole
- Support moving or giving way
- Losing grip or support
- Losing balance
- Surface breaking
Even though falls are preventable, these injuries remain a very serious issue across all industries. OSHA also reports that fall-related violations are the most frequent citations issued during inspections. For employee safety, it’s clear why OSHA has taken a special interest in preventing these injuries.
What Does the New OSHA Initiative Mean for Me?
If you are a business owner or manager, it is important to stay up to date on OSHA regulations. According to OSHA research, these fatal and serious falls can happen at a variety of heights. So, regardless of height, your company must now inspect and review your current safety precautions and procedures. Failure to comply with the new National Emphasis Program can lead to OSHA violations, fines and legal issues.
How to Comply With the New OSHA Program
The new National Emphasis Program puts additional importance on the fall prevention regulations previously established by OSHA. To comply with this new program, continue to follow OSHA recommendations and regulations. OSHA compliance safety and health officers will inspect worksites to ensure the appropriate preventative measures are in place.
In terms of fall prevention, OSHA requires employers to:
- Ensure workspaces are free of known dangers.
- Keep work area floors dry and as clean as possible.
- Provide personal protective equipment to workers free of charge.
- Inform and train each employee about potential job hazards in a language the employee understands.
However, OSHA requirements do not stop there. The organization goes into more detail to explain how you can ensure your workspace complies with OSHA fall prevention regulations.
All workplaces must provide fall protection at the following elevations:
- Four feet in general industry workplaces
- Five feet in shipyards
- Six feet in the construction industry
- Eight feet in long shoring operations
Additionally, for employee safety and proper fall protection, employers must implement the following regulations:
- Every floor hole where an employee can walk must be guarded by a railing, floor hole cover or toe-board.
- Guard rails and toe-boards must be present around every elevated open-sided floor, platform or runway.
- If dangerous machinery is present, such as a conveyor belt or vat of acid, guard rails and toe-boards must be in place regardless of height.
- Some jobs may require other fall protection equipment like safety nets, handrails, stair railings and safety harnesses.
Fall protection plans should also be in place as well as warning lines and control zones. Further, when fall protection equipment or systems are available, ensure each employee understands how to properly operate and inspect the equipment.
FIXFAST USA for OSHA Compliant Fall Protection Products
At FIXFAST USA, our number one priority is keeping employees safe from preventable falls and subsequent injuries. That’s why we offer high-quality and OSHA-compliant fall protection equipment. Our products, such as guardrail, walkway, anchor point, fixed ladder, lifeline and modular access systems, help reduce fall hazards.
The new OSHA National Emphasis Program proves just how important fall protection is. Plus, OSHA compliance officers will be coming to inspect and evaluate your current fall protection systems — will they like what they find? At FIXFAST USA, we stay up to date on changing OSHA requirements and regulations so we can always offer our client’s the best and most relevant products. So, whether your workplace is currently not OSHA certified or you’re looking for an upgrade, our products will do the trick.
Our team of experts can help guide you through our various systems to find the right solutions for your workspace. With FIXFAST USA products in place, you can feel confident your employees are safe, and OSHA compliance officers will be happy.