Though there are more fall protection resources than ever before in terms of training, products, and regulatory attention, the number of injuries due to slips, trips, and falls in the workplace continues to rise nationwide, and California is no exception. In 2015 alone, Cal/OSHA reported that there were over 20,000 injuries caused by slips, trips, and falls, resulting in days away from work (DAFW) for private sector workers, accounting for over 20 percent of total injuries, and representing an increase from the previous year.
So, what is Cal/OSHA doing to combat these chronic slip, trip, and fall hazards, and what measures can you implement at your workplace to avoid becoming another statistic?
Though California generally follows the federal walking and working surfaces regulations, Cal/OSHA has established many more stringent working heights that trigger the use of fall protection depending on the trade, the job being performed, the height at which the work is done, and the dangers below the working surface.
For example, California employers must provide guardrails on all open sides of unenclosed elevated work locations, such as roof openings, open and glazed sides of landings, platforms, runways, ramps, or working levels that are more than 30 inches above the floor, ground, or other working areas of a building. By comparison, the federal rules only require guardrails, safety net systems, or personal fall protection systems for employees on walking-working surfaces with unprotected sides or edges that are 4 feet or more above a lower level.
By creating these more detailed and extensive fall protection rules, Cal/OSHA aims to buck the nationwide trend and reduce the number of slip-, trip-, and fall-related injuries in its general industry workplaces.
Avoiding Slips, Trips, and Falls
Though stricter fall protection standards may certainly help reduce the number of slips, trips, and falls in California, there are several strategies you can easily implement in your workplace to help eliminate hazards:
- Clean up cluttered or obstructed work areas.
- Maintain floor surfaces, and clean up spills and splashes immediately.
- Make sure work areas are well-lit.
- Encourage employees to wear closed-toe shoes with slip-resistant soles and low heels.
- Conduct regular inspections of walking and working surfaces for deposits of water, food, oil, grease, sawdust, soap, or other debris.
To learn more about California’s extensive fall protection requirements, rules that may be on the horizon, and what you can do to combat slips, trips, and falls at your facility or worksite, attend Fall Protection in California: Current Requirements and What to Expect with Future Rulemaking, presented by John McHugh, president of Versatile Systems Inc., at BLR’s upcoming Cal/OSHA Summit 2018.
Cal/OSHA Summit, which will be held from October 17–19 in San Diego, is a leading state-specific event for California employers and safety professionals to get cutting-edge developments on new safety regulations, compliance strategies, and management tactics. Attendees will learn proven strategies for acing Cal/OSHA inspections, avoiding the most common compliance mistakes, delivering excellent safety performance results, and building a strong culture of safety throughout your organization. Register now.