Construction workers in New Castle, Pennsylvania, and surrounding areas face an endless list of safety hazards, whether they work on single-story residential projects or skyscrapers. One of the most significant risks is working at heights, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has strict standards of fall protection with which employers must comply. They must maintain safe work environments and provide employees with fall protection training, education and equipment.
If you are a member of a construction crew, you might not realize that you have the right to refuse to work at elevated levels without the necessary personal protective equipment. Your employer must also provide adequate training in the proper use of the protective systems.
Fall protection categories
Fall protection regulations cover more than fall arrest systems. Learning about the following four categories of protection standards might help you to ensure you receive the protection you deserve:
- Suspension system: If your job involves window work or painting, you would ideally need a suspension system that will support you and allow you to work hands-free. However, this is only a support system, and you must use it along with a fall arrest system.
- Positioning system: This system allows you to sit back in a harness in the perfect position to do your job at an elevated level. It will not arrest a fall, so extra protection is necessary.
- Fall arrest system: OSHA requires employers to provide fall arrest systems to any employees who work at levels higher than six feet above lower levels. The equipment includes a body harness, a secure anchor point and a connector that could be a self-retracting lifeline or a lanyard, and it can arrest a fall before you strike the lower level.
- Retrieval system: Retrieval is a rescue plan, which is a crucial step in the fall protection protocol. Leaving you suspended after a fall can cause suspension trauma — a condition caused by the pooling of blood in your leg veins — and OSHA requires each employer to have a practical plan to retrieve suspended workers promptly.
Knowing your rights to protection and the required fall protection system might help you to protect yourself against falls from elevated work areas. However, accidents happen, and if you are a victim, you might have questions about financial assistance with the unanticipated medical bills and lost wages. An experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney can explain your rights and assist with the navigation of the benefits claims process.