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OSHA Residential Fall Protection Revisions Debate

Hello Safety Community!


I'm excited to join the community and eager to join in on the safety dialogue. I look forward to sharing my knowledge with you and in turn, learning as much as I can from you. This is my first blog post here. I hope you enjoy!

I recently read an article on Finance & about OSHA's residential fall protection revisions:

And I couldn't help but completely disagree. I understand the argument made but it's a narrow-minded one.

Synopsis: Brian Johnson, the writer, argued that OSHA's decision to implement such a revision at the beginning of construction's busy summer season will further hinder the struggling industry from bouncing back.

First, it should be said that OSHA has recently invoked a "Phase-In" period to allow companies time to comply, but some states have the "ability to go above and beyond", Johnson states, like Minnesota is choosing to do in this case.

Regardless of the "Phase-In", the initial date was chosen specifically with the "Busy Season" in mind. And it wasn't made with aspirations of twisting the arm of an industry whose hands are already tied back. According to the National Association of Home Builders, between the years 2003-2006, fall related deaths were the most frequent during the summer months; peaking in August with 164. That's 164 deaths in a single month.

Of course this shouldn't be surprising because by it being the "busiest season" for residential construction implies more work and coupled with an increase in work comes an increase in opportunities for mistakes, injuries, and fatalities.

With the aforementioned facts of life, it's easy to understand OSHA's decision to mark early June as the compliance date isn't it...are you beginning to see the picture?

VSI, like many fall protection companies, residential construction companies, and lawmakers applauded the date choice; we all looked forward to quelling August's 164 fall fatality figure. But most importantly we all looked forward to saving lives because we wanted to secure the physical and emotional well-being of our workers and families, secure the physical and emotional well-being of our companies big and small, and secure the physical and emotional well-being of the United States workforce.

Furthermore, the Federal Employers Compensation Act , FECA, "reportedly spent $1.88 billion in wage loss compensation, impairment, and death benefits with an additional $898.1 paid out for medical and rehabilitation services and supplies."

That is nearly 2 billion dollars spent on workers compensation every year. It's blatantly obvious that falls reduce our workforce, reduce our productivity, and increase our debt.

An obvious solution is safety. Investing in safety will protect our employees, families, and companies. It will free funds to be spent elsewhere in this country like education, infrastructure, urbanization etc.

Infrastructure and urbanization...?

Yes, of course infrastructure and urbanization. And those fields don't grow with the click of a mouse from a cozy air conditioned room in a corner office. No. It happens with sweat, smarts and force; prime character traits of the US construction industry. Therefore money saved from the workers comp supports construction projects which in turn supports the growing populace.

That's the big picture. And it's BIG. Safety can and will help bring the construction industry out of its slump. So why not start today.

Most Sincere Gratitude,
Jack Guimon

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Comment by Jack Guimon on July 18, 2011 at 10:43am
Thanks for reading and commenting HUGS SAFETY and Jay!
Comment by HUGSAFETY on July 15, 2011 at 3:15pm

"with the technological breakthroughs in the safety industry, the argument that safety inhibits an employee's ability to complete a job in a timely fashion is rendered invalid."


You followed with an excellent point.


We agree completely and also feel that the number of different safety systems available on the market are the greatest defense points from this end of the spectrum.  Definitely a good read, thanks.

Comment by Jack Guimon on June 30, 2011 at 2:10pm

I agree with you Jay, and let's be clear; with the technological breakthroughs in the safety industry, the argument that safety inhibits an employee's ability to complete a job in a timely fashion is rendered invalid. Often times, safety equipment improves the speed at which a job is completed because there is a confidence in the provided security, and this allows employees to focus on the work and not the risks.

OSHA is making work easier, safer, and more efficient. 

Comment by Jay D. Rohman on June 30, 2011 at 12:46pm
Jack, I wholeheartedly agree with you. It is not the duty of OSHA to make it easier for companies to accomplish their work, but to keep employees safe. If the company had a solid safety culture, the implementation date would not be an issue. If organizations would deal with the true problem OSHA wouldn't have to keep sticking bandaids on. 

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