US Employers Fear Inconsistent Enforcement of OSHA Fall Protection Rule

On 17 January, an update to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) fall protection rule went into effect. The update allows “temporary and infrequent” work, which would have previously required the use of fall protection equipment, to be done without fall protection. However, OSHA has not clarified the meaning of “temporary and infrequent,” nor has it published guidance on how the rule will be enforced. This has left employers across the United States in fear of inconsistent enforcement of the rule.

The Colorado Convention Center, site of the panel discussion of the OSHA fall protection rule update.  Courtesy: The Untz

The Colorado Convention Center, site of the panel discussion of the OSHA fall protection rule update.  Courtesy: The Untz

At a 22 June panel discussion on the rule at the professional development conference and exposition of the American Society of Safety Engineers, occupational safety & health attorney Adele L. Abrams said that there would be an air of uncertainty around the new OSHA rule until the rule is interpreted in a binding declaration by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, “and not just by an administrative law judge.” She suggested that in the meantime, employers should keep track of how long employees spend on tasks that present fall risks. Read more here.

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