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Fall protection rules for residential construction workers

Construction site injuries are often fatal. Falling is a major factor contributing to construction worker injuries. Residential construction workers are particularly vulnerable to falls if training is inadequate and safety equipment isn't provided. On average, falls from residential structures result in around 40 worker fatalities each year. Restraining falls and preventing work injury is a big challenge.

Connecticut residential construction workers should feel relieved with Occupational Safety and Health Administration's new fall protection guidelines, which come into effect on December 15. Guidelines are applicable to all residential construction workers working at six feet or above ground level. Guidelines also explain what is covered under residential construction and what is exempted.

Contractors are responsible for training and educating workers to ensure better safety and compliance. Workers should understand that it is beneficial legislation designed to protect them.

Guardrails, safety nets, full-body harnesses, deceleration devices and personal fall arrest systems are conventional safety equipment. The requirement of safety equipment may vary with the nature of the construction work. Employers should provide user-friendly equipment that is light weight and easy to wear.

In addition to adequate safety equipment, proper training is also required. Safety equipment will be ineffective if used improperly. A hands-on training program will help workers understand and will allow training of how to use safety equipment.

Non-compliance with OSHA residential construction regulations may subject an employer or contractor to substantial fines or delays in work at construction sites. Apart from citations, such incidents affect other workers' morale, decrease productivity and result in financial losses in the form of work loss, compensation claims and damaged reputation.

In the case of a work-related injury or fatality, a workers' compensation claim is an important step in ensuring recovery. The compensation awarded may cover medical expenses, lost wages and temporary and permanent damages.

Source: ohsonline.com, "OSHA Residential Construction Regulations Compliance," Craig Firl, Nov. 01, 2012

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