OSHA’s Proposed Rule Changes.
OSHA, the federal government agency in charge of workplace safety, has proposed some rule changes regarding floor safety that could effect every workplace in the country. This rule has been in the works for a long time, but sources say that this is about to be adopted as law by OSHA.
III. Need for Revisions to Subparts D and I
A review of the information, data and comments in the rulemaking record for subparts D and I as well as information OSHA has received since then, indicate that OSHA does need to revise the requirements in these subparts to address the significant hazards of slips, trips and falls to employees in general industry. Data in the record, as well as data received since the record closed in 1992, show that a significant number of accidents and fatalities in general industry are caused by slip, trip and fall hazards. For example, a 1982 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed that during a four-month period 938 employees were injured when they fell on stairs (Docket S-041; Ex. 2- 37). The study was based on a review of workers’ compensation data from 24 states. OSHA believes that the injury total would have been significantly higher had data from all the states been included in the study. In 1984 and 1985, BLS reported that more than 300 workers died in fall-related accidents, which represented nine percent of all workplace deaths (Docket S-041; Ex. 2-19).
More recent publicly available data also confirm the need for revising subparts D and I. BLS data for 1999 show that employee falls resulted in 721 fatalities and 297,499 injuries involving lost workdays, and a fatality rate of 0.08 per 10,000 employees. BLS data for 2000 shows a slight increase in employee fall fatalities (734), also with a fatality rate of 0.08 per 10,000 employees. This represents a slight increase from the 1992 fatality rate of 0.06 derived from BLS data. A 2002 study by the Liberty Mutual Insurance Company found that falls to a lower level were the fourth leading cause of all workplace injuries, accounting for 9.2% of all workplace injuries and $3.7 billion in direct costs annually (Docket S-029; Ex. 1-17).
OSHA believes that revising the standards for subpart D and adding design and performance requirements for personal fall protection equipment in subpart I will substantially reduce the number of fatalities and injuries resulting from slip, trip and fall hazards.
Workplaces will be required to do inspections.
If these rules are adopted, OSHA will require that employers have a walkway safety program that includes regular inspections by an OSHA “qualified person.”
(d) Inspection, maintenance, and repair. (1) The employer shall ensure through regular and periodic inspection and maintenance that walking and working surfaces are in safe condition for employee use.
(2) The employer shall ensure that all hazardous conditions which are discovered are corrected, repaired, or temporarily guarded to prevent employee use. Repairs shall be made in a manner that will restore the walking and working surface to a safe condition for employee use.
(3) Only qualified persons shall be permitted to inspect, maintain or repair walking and working surfaces except for the incidental cleanup of non-toxic materials.
A “qualified person” will be required to provide inspections.
OHSA has a specific definition of what a “qualified person” is.
“Qualified person” means an person designated by the employer who is knowledgeable about and familiar with all relevant manufacturers’ specifications and recommendations; is capable of identifying existing or potential hazards in specific surroundings or working conditions which may be hazardous or dangerous to employees; and has been trained for the specific task assigned. When work is to be supervised by a qualified person, the qualified person shall have the necessary authority to carry out the assigned work responsibilities.””
Flooristics personnel are “qualified.”
Flooristics has personnel that have been trained and certified in walkway safety who meet OSHA’s forthcoming definition of “Qualified Person.”