South Carolina companies are required to conform to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s rules governing safety in the workplace. On Nov. 17, 2016, the agency published an update to its regulations covering walking and working surfaces and fall protection. It has estimated that the final rule, which for the most part will go into effect in January 2017, could prevent nearly 30 fatalities each year.

These rules are targeted at general industrial workplaces. Agricultural and construction work sites are not addressed with these regulations. Particular attention is paid to personal fall arrest systems and the circumstances under which they may be appropriate to use.

Falling accidents represent one of the single largest causes of workplace injuries and fatalities, according to an OSHA spokesperson. OSHA research indicates that the updated guidelines for standing and walking surfaces will prevent nearly 6,000 accidents that would have cost at least one lost day of work each year.

The new rule also adds requirements relating to personal fall protection systems that must be supplied by the employer. However, it gives companies a greater degree of flexibility in the choice of what system to use. Guardrails are no longer mandated, and employers can determine what system they think will work best for their workplace environment.

Despite all safety precautions, workplace accidents will continue to take place, resulting in some cases in debilitating injuries to those who are involved. Most injured employees are eligible to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits under their employer’s insurance coverage, and an attorney can often assist with the process.

Source: Safety BLR, “OSHA publishes final walking/working surfaces rule”, Nov. 17, 2016