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Federal laws require climbing safety gear for all lineworkers

South Carolina workers may be interested in recently enacted rules pertaining to electrical workers who climb power lines, poles and towers. Heretofore, these workers were exempted from federal laws mandating the use of safety equipment for people who work at height. Thus, 'free climbing" has been a common practice among electrical lineworkers, according to authorities. However, new rules announced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will reportedly force electrical lineworkers to conform to safety requirements that are standard for climbing-related jobs.

That means 'free climbing" is now prohibited, according to OSHA. Moreover, employers are required to provide electrical lineworkers with safety equipment appropriate for climbing heights, such as harnesses. The deadline for employers to comply with the new rules is April 2015, reportedly.

OSHA estimates that these new federal rules will save 20 lives per year. According to the federal agency, worksite accidents such as falls result in an average of 74 deaths among electrical lineworkers each year. Electrical lineworkers are responsible for installing and maintaining the nation's power lines, poles and towers.

Nationwide, falls account for a noteworthy portion of worksite accidents every year. These accidents often result in catastrophic injuries requiring costly medical care and significant time off from work. Yet, the South Carolina workers' compensation laws provide recourse for workers who suffer falls while on the job.

These injured workers are entitled to workers' compensation benefits, which may cover lost income and medical expenses depending on the extent of the injury. However, obtaining these benefits is not always a smooth process but can be difficult and highly contentious. For this reason, many people retain a workers' compensation attorney to help file their claim, protect their rights and represent their interests.

Source: KUOW.org, "Feds Ban Free Climbing By Electric Utility Workers", John Ryan, July 23, 2014

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