Fall protection is a very important topic for people that work from heights. One of the most common reasons employers are cited by OSHA in San Antonio, Texas and beyond is for violating fall protection regulations in incidents where workers are injured on the job. When employers do not provide proper fall protection and enforce the use of it, workers can be seriously injured or killed on the job.
Justin Hill: Welcome to Hill Law Firm Cases, a podcast discussing real-world cases handled by Justin Hill and the Hill Law Firm. For confidentiality reasons, names and amounts of any settlements have been removed. However, the facts are real, and these are the cases we handle on a day-to-day basis.
Justin Hill: One of the earliest cases I worked on as a young lawyer involved a worker who was injured on the job. In that case, OSHA did a full investigation following his injury to determine whether or not the employer had followed the OSHA required regulations regarding safety. I learned, in that case, how difficult it is to get information from OSHA, how important they are in the investigation, and what the outcome is of their investigation. That case involved a man who was injured after falling from a scaffolding. There were questions about whether or not he was provided the safety equipment, and whether or not he was using it properly at the time his injury occurred.
OSHA is a federal agency who is tasked with evaluating and enforcing safety rules and regulations on employers and at worksites. Generally, their goal is to make sure that they require employers, and those in control of worksites, to make sure that they're safe. If somebody's injured on the job and OSHA does do an investigation, if they find violations or deficiencies regarding OSHA standards, they have the ability to find and sanction employers.
In 2019, they listed what their most commonly cited violations were. The number one most commonly cited violation was fall protection, and the general requirements of fall protection outlined by OSHA. This is a standard that outlines where fall protection is required. It goes on to say what types of systems are required, what has to be given to employees. It's designed to protect employees, if they're walking, working, standing, or whatnot, on surfaces that don't have a protected edge, like a fence or a wall, and it's above six feet. In those situations, employer should know that they have to follow OSHA regulations regarding fall protection.
Some of the most commonly cited sections of the fall protection guidelines that lead to employers being sanctioned or fined include employees that are working in the residential section, the residential construction area, and that their activities, if they're six or more feet above the ground, that they have to be protected by some guardrail, or a safety netting system, or they have to be wearing a personal fall protection, or fall arrest system.
Now all of these OSHA regulations get very deep into the specifics of what fall protection is required, and when it's required. For example, we know that OSHA regulations require that if employees are working on a roof that is considered to be a steep roof, that doesn't have protected sides, that they're required to have things such as toe boards, or nets or other types of harness, or fall arrest systems. The fall protection guidelines of the OSHA regulations are there to ensure the safety of workers that are working at heights. We've discussed previously how fall protection is so important, because falls and slips and trips are one of the leading causes of injuries and deaths on the worksite.
We're going to go ahead and outline some of these other most commonly cited OSHA regulations over the next few episodes of Hill Law Firm Cases.