US Labor Department's OSHA publishes proposes rulemaking to prevent injuries from slips, trips and falls on walking-working surfaces
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced in a notice of proposed rulemaking published in today's Federal Register its plans to require improved worker protection from tripping, slipping and falling hazards on walking and working surfaces. A public hearing on the revised changes will be held after the public comment period for the NPRM.
"This proposal addresses workplace hazards that are a leading cause of work related injuries and deaths," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels.
The NPRM describes revisions to the Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Protective Equipment standards to help prevent an estimated annual 20 workplace fatalities and more than 3,500 injuries serious enough to cause people to miss work. For example, in July 2009, a worker at a chocolate processing plant was killed after falling from an unguarded work platform.
"This is a clear and grave example of the human cost incurred when fall protection safeguards are absent, ignored or inadequate," said Michaels. "The loss of a worker's life might have been prevented if the protective measures in these revised standards had been in place and in use."
The current walking-working surfaces regulations allow employers to provide outdated and dangerous fall protection equipment such as lanyards and body belts that can result in workers suffering greater injury from falls. Construction and maritime workers already receive safer, more effective fall protection devices such as self-retracting lanyards and ladder safety and rope descent systems, which these proposed revisions would also require for general industry workers.
The current walking-working surfaces standards also do not allow OSHA to fine employers who let workers climb certain ladders without fall protection. Under the revised standards, this restriction would be lifted in virtually all industries, allowing OSHA inspectors to fine employers who jeopardize their workers' safety and lives by climbing these ladders without proper fall protection.
Whistleblowers.gov offers quick worker access
to whistleblower protection information
WASHINGTON - Workers who "blow the whistle" on prohibited or unlawful practices in the workplace as well as safety and health discrimination play an important role in assuring compliance with federal laws. Today, OSHA unveils a dedicated Web address for its whistleblower protection program - www.whistleblowers.gov. The site is designed to provide workers, employers, and the public with easily accessible information about the 18 federal whistleblower protection statutes that OSHA currently administers.
The Web page will provide information about worker rights and provisions under each of the whistleblower statutes and regulations that OSHA enforces. Additionally, program fact sheets and information are available that discuss how one can file a retaliation complaint with OSHA. This Web page will continue to be accessible through OSHA's Web site, www.osha.gov, by clicking on the "Whistleblower Protection" link.
Under Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (the OSH Act), workers may file discrimination complaints with OSHA if they believe their employer has retaliated against them for exercising a broad range of rights protected by the OSH Act. These rights include filing safety or health complaints with OSHA and seeking an OSHA inspection, participating in an OSHA inspection, participating or testifying in any proceeding related to occupational safety or health, or reporting an injury or illness to their employer.
"OSHA doesn't work unless workers feel secure in exercising their rights," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels. "This Web page is part of OSHA's promise to stand by those workers who have the courage to come forward when they know their employer is cutting corners on safety and health."
Workers may also file whistleblower complaints with OSHA if they believe their employer has retaliated against them for engaging in protected activities related to air carrier safety, asbestos in schools, commercial motor carrier safety or security, corporate fraud, environmental, nuclear safety, pipeline safety, public transportation agency, rail safety or security, and several other statutes. For each of the statutes covered by OSHA, the Web page will provide workers with information on timeframes for filing, the complaint investigation process, case settlement, reinstatement, pay back wages, restoration of benefits, and other possible remedies to ensure justice for the worker.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.