Gilbane Building Company has made a proposition to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration which calls for new regulation regarding safety harnesses. A safety harness is a personal fall arrest system.
Gilbane is petitioning that the OSHA mandate that workers wear a safety harness when they are operating at 6 or more feet above the floor or ground. As it stands the OSHA only requires a personal fall arrest system to be worn in some cases up to 15 feet above the ground or floor. The proposed regulation comes from a record of safety improvements seen by Gilbane in response to the implementation of the 6 feet rule amongst their own workers. Gilbane believes that the improvements brought about in their own company could become industry-wide improvements if their proposal is adopted by the OSHA.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not have the same conviction as to the benefits of the proposed regulation. They have made no move to alter their regulations in response to Gilbane’s petition for change. The reason behind OSHA’s stance on the topic is that, in their eyes, different activities require different degrees of caution. This belief has led to them implementing different height requirements for different activities within construction. An example of this is when erecting steel workers are only required to wear a safety harness when operating at heights of 15 feet or more. Whereas they require workers to wear a safety harness at 10 or more feet when working with scaffolding. The OSHA is standing by their activity based height requirements and claim that a one size fits all solution like that proposed by Gilbane would not be an effective plan.
Construction has the highest fatality rate of any industry in the United States. Clearly, safety should be an important discussion amongst industry professionals given the statistics. Although the better option is not immediately clear, it is a positive step that Gilbane has started a conversation on the topic. The OSHA is faced with a tough challenge by this decision. If they keep their standards where they are now they could appear lackadaisical in their approach to safety within the industry. On the other hand, the proposed changes might be unnecessary and could hinder productivity within the industry if implemented. This challenging decision now facing the OSHA could have serious ramifications over the coming years. These regulations are meant to keep workers safe and it is important to remember that lives are at stake when these decisions are made.
The Bottom Line
The OSHA has declined Gilbane Building Company’s proposed alteration to an existing regulation regarding safety harnesses. The proposed regulation would require any worker operating at 6 feet or higher to wear a personal fall arrest system. The OSHA currently has different height requirements based on the function being performed by the worker in question. This proposition and the regulation under scrutiny have brought about a serious discussion about safety in the construction industry. Let us know what your opinion on the question is. We always appreciate your feedback!
Source: Construct Connect
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