After a long-awaited update, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has issued a new standard for Walking and Working Surfaces. Walking and working surfaces include any surface on which employees perform or gain access to their job duties. According to the OSHA Law Blog, these additions will address standards specific to slips, trips and falls in the work place. It includes revised and new provisions concerning ladders, rope decedent systems and fall protection systems. Employers must now train employees on minimizing fall hazards, fall protection systems and maintaining fall protection equipment. From there, employers can now choose a personalized fall protection system that benefits them and their scope of work. The rule has been in the works since 1990 and is now scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 17.
What does this Mean?
Accidents in the workplace involving slips, trips and falls have been increasing frequently. One out of every six slip, trip and fall accidents leads to lost time away from work for a valuable employee. Of these hurt employees, on average 31 days will be missed. This problem has become a 70-billion-dollar issue for employers. This rule was updated to reflect current industry practices and improve the overall well-being and safety of workers and employers. According to Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, this ultimately means an increase of workplace protection, especially from fall hazards. Since these specific hazards are the leading cause of working deaths and injuries, OSHA hopes new advances and more flexibility will help prevent and reduce this from occurring.
What will be the Benefits?
The previous standard on this issue noted the use of physical barriers as the main method for protecting employees against falls. What this did not directly establish is that personal fall protection systems can provide protective benefits for employees in the workplace. This update hopes to give employers flexibility to decide which protection method works best for them and the daily operations being implemented. It calls for qualified persons to address deficiencies in walking and working surfaces. This person is required to identify existing or potential hazards which may be dangerous to employees. Once put into place, 112 million workers at seven million worksites will be affected. OSHA has estimated that this will prevent 29 fatalities and more than 5,842 injuries annually.
How will it Impact our Industry?
Having a rule that primarily focuses on slips, trips and falls and the danger they pose can have a great impact on the commercial mat industry. This rule will make going to a professional mat service company that provides safety mats much more important. There is no industry more qualified of providing the professional people and audits to assist customers with providing any documentation needed to please an OSHA inquiry or onsite visit. With the new rules at hand, employers will be seeking knowledgeable industry professionals for a one stop service. They will be provided with trained staff who can assist their needs by educating and explaining the value and benefits of each product.
Now is the time to take advantage of the need for anti-fatigue matting. OSHA is very focused on musculoskeletal and ergonomic enhancements in the workplace. Companies that choose to sample these mats are doing their employees and customers a great service. When you have a highly trained service person who knows the proper standards and protocols, pristine delivery and placement is guaranteed. The employer can rest assured knowing the mats are high quality, thoroughly inspected, placed in the proper area, flat to the ground and defect free. This way the customer knows their trusted mat service has placed superior mats that are doing their part in preventing slips, trips and falls.
With the new update coming into effect, it is important to make sure your facility is prepared. We can provide you with an industry specialist who addresses OSHA and safety concerns while also ensuring your facility is safe with quality commercial mats.