Why You Need Protection Against Falls From Flatbed Trailers?
In previous communications (see Truck Fall Prevention.com website), we told you the reasons you need the NoFalls System to protect your drivers/warehouse employees against falls from flatbed trailer decks.
OSHA Section 1910.28 and the OSHA general duty clause (Section 5 (a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act) require employers to provide fall protection.
Failure to provide fall protection can result in accidents, injuries/death, citations, fines, criminal penalties and workers compensation/3rd party lawsuits. Your business operations can suffer interruption and your assets will be jeopardized.
Your employees and suppliers’ employees’ safety will be jeopardized.
The Biden Administration Will Increase OSHA Enforcement
Joe Biden has been elected President of the United States. Effective January 21, 2021 the Biden administration will be in a position to implement the significant changes to OSHA Biden promised during the campaign.
Among Joe’s promises were changes to the current enforcement and administration of Federal and State Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) regulations to increase the focus on worker safety.
What Are Your Obligations as an Employer?
You have obligations as an employer/workplace under Federal and State OSHA requirements.
The General Duty Clause
Under the General Duty Clause (GDC) an employer can be cited for a violation if a “recognized hazard” exists in the employer’s workplace which is not protected against.
- Shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment that are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to its employees.
- Shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this chapter. (emphasis added).
A violation of the GDC occurs when:
- an employer fails to keep the workplace free of a hazard
- to which employees are exposed
- which hazard is recognized
- which hazard was causing or is likely to cause death or serious physical harm and for which there is available a feasible and useful method to correct the hazard.
OSHA Section 1910.28 requires an employer to provide fall protection.
Sec 1910.28 (b)(1)(i) requires that an employer “…must ensure that each employee on a walking-working surface with an unprotected side or edge that is 4 feet (1.2m) or more above a lower level is protected by “guard rail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall protection systems”.
A flatbed trailer is, in most cases, a walking/working surface 4 feet or more above a lower level (ground or floor). As such a fall from a walking/working surface to a lower level is a recognized hazard under the GDC and under 1910.28 which requires protection.
As such you may be exposed to citations/fines under both the OSHA general duty clause and the specific “walking-working surface” provisions for failure to provide fall protection.
What does this have to do with Joe Biden?
Joe Biden promised as part of his election campaign, to make changes to OSHA which include the following:
- Make “workplace safety” a key focus of a Biden administration;
- Double the number of OSHA inspection/compliance officers;
- Reinstate requirements employers electronically report injury and illness information which OSHA will post for public viewing online;
- Increase COVID-19 inspections which means more workplace inspections;
- Seek more aggressive enforcement of regulations by State OSHA agencies – such as MIOSHA in Michigan, Cal/OSHA in California, Illinois OSHA in Illinois, etc.
- Increase fines and penalties both for Federal OSHA and State OSHA citations;
- Increase the use of “public shaming” of corporations that have safety violation.
The result of these changes will:
- Increase your exposure to Federal/State OSHA random inspections, citations, fines and penalties.
- Publicize injuries/deaths in your workplace – expose you/your company to more claims by lawyers for workers compensation and 3rd party injury lawsuits.
- Increase your company’s exposure to “public shaming” – negative publicity about your company ONLINE.
How Do You Protect Yourself If You Operate Flatbeds Or A Warehouse Loading/Unloading Flatbeds?
You may be liable for citations/fines even if you do not have an injury. The failure to provide fall protection is the violation.
You will be liable if an employee or 3rd party is injured where no fall protection is provided as required (no differently than if an employee is injured because a pinch point was not guarded).
The NoFalls System Is A New Fall Protection System Now Available
The NoFalls System provides the truck fall protection employers need.
The NoFalls System is an available feasible guardrail system that is:
- easy to use
and which can be used by a flatbed carrier or provided by a warehouse to flatbed operators who do not have fall protection on the truck.
The new NoFalls System is shown below:
If you operate flatbed trailers or a warehouse, you should investigate this new guardrail system. NoFalls looks to help your company/employees operate more safely and should pay for itself many times over.