The Occupational Safety & Health Administration with the United States Department of Labor created industry standards for construction sites in order to try to reduce the number of injuries and deaths resulting from falls at work sites. The Code of Federal Regulations 1926 Subpart M covers “fall protection” and lists several requirements that employers must comply with in order to maintain a safe working environment. There are varying heights required for fall protection depending on the type of work environment: 4 feet in general industry workplaces, 5 feet in shipyards, 6 feet in the construction industry, and 8 feet in longshoring operations. In general, the OSHA requirements are meant to provide for a safe work area to protect employees involved in jobs with dangerous equipment, machinery, or at great height. Some of the regulations necessary to protect employees from falling include using protective floor hole coverings, providing guardrails and toe-boards for platforms or over dangerous machines, and maintaining railings and hand rails around dangerous work areas. Although OSHA continues to revise the standards, accidents still occur like the one in Iowa on December 5, 2012, where a man fell while working on a water tower due to the safety cable breaking. Accidents like this emphasize the need for employers to take every precaution to follow the OSHA guidelines, provide safety monitoring systems, and properly train employees to be aware of safety practices.
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