Arizona Fall Protection Lags Behind Rest of Nation
Every week, around five workers die from fall injuries. There are reasonably priced and easily available fall protection systems which would have saved most of these workers from death or crippling injury. Having handled a number of these cases, we have seen the devastating effects of falls from falls. Currently there is a dispute between the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and Arizona’s Department of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) over the levels at which fall protection should apply. OSHA requires that workers be protected when working at any height above six feet, but ADOSH mandates fall protection only when workers are operating above 15 feet.
Unlike the majority of states, Arizona maintains its own regulations when it comes to occupational safety. Contractors in Arizona are primarily responsible for increasing the applicable height, arguing that that the OSHA regulations on fall protection are impossible or too cost prohibitive. OSHA, however, and even a few major state contractors, disagree, pointing to the moral as well as legal obligations for employers to maintain a safe workplace. The cost of injuries simply gets passed from employers to insurance companies, who in turn raise rates to cover losses. As in most things, avoiding the initial injury seems far preferable.
The dispute between OSHA and ADOSH could result in OSHA ultimately assuming responsibility in Arizona for the enforcement of federal guidelines. Rather than force bureaucratic proceedings over fall protection, ADOSH should implement the OSHA regulations, and start protecting Arizona workers today.
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