OSHA Mandates Fall Harness Protection for ZT Mowers
Maintaining a safe work environment is essential to ensure worker health and safety. Although there are many rules and regulations that apply to the workplace, it’s important to remember that they’re just guidelines; employers have the final say when it comes to determining what constitutes unsafe working conditions.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created in 1970 to provide workers with protection from hazards that could cause harm or death. OSHA is part of the U.S. Department of Labor, which oversees all federal employment programs. The agency enforces laws that protect employees’ rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), including minimum wage, overtime pay, child labor, record keeping requirements and other protections against employer abuse.
In addition to its role in enforcing workplace safety laws, OSHA works with employers and unions to promote worker safety through education and outreach activities. These efforts include conducting inspections, publishing reports and issuing citations.
Workplace injuries resulting from falls are one of the most common occupational fatalities in the United States. According to OSHA statistics, approximately 1.5 million workers were injured at their jobs due to falling objects in 2009. Falls account for nearly half of these injuries (48 percent). Other causes of fatal injuries due to falls in the workplace include:
Slips or Trips: 34 percent
Falling Objects: 17 percent
Overexertion: 10 percent
These statistics make fall protection a critical element for all workplaces. In 1992, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released regulations that required employers to provide fall protection systems for their employees. These regulations specifically address situations where employees may be exposed to fall hazards two or more stories high.
The rule, which was updated in March of 1999, requires that employers provide body harnesses and full body protection, as well as anchor points for all employees working on elevated surfaces. Employees who work at heights of six or more feet must be protected by a fall arrest system.
In addition to the employer’s responsibility for providing fall protection, the employee is required to use the equipment. The only time this rule does not apply is when the use of a fall arrest system would put the employee in a greater danger than simply falling.
History of Fall Protection
Although there are many different types of fall protection equipment, harnesses have long been used by rock climbers to keep them from falling off of steep or vertical inclines. In the past, they were also used by workers in factories to keep them from falling into machinery or other dangerous situations when they worked on upper floors of buildings that had no internal elevators.
The evolution of harnesses for use in fall protection was a slow one. In the early years, harnesses were made with ropes and wooden knots that provided little in the way of safety and security for workers.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Tennessee Workers: Dying for a Job (KAWM Day – 2015 – coshnetwork.org)
- Acute Back Injury (F from Elevation – Citeseer)
- Micropropagation Cultures for Genetic Transformation of Grapevine (M Dutt, DJ Gray, ZT Li, S Dhekney, MM Van Aman – HortScience, 2006 – journals.ashs.org)