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Preventing falls at work in Minnesota

Falls present a significant risk of injury to workers in the construction industry as well as in general industry jobs. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration, or OSHA, has multiple regulations in place for employers to follow in order to reduce the number of fall-related injuries that occur each year.

OSHA mandates that employers provide fall protection for all employees who are on a walking or working surface that has an unprotected side or edge at certain heights according to their jobs. When employees are exposed to a fall of 6 feet or more, employers are required to use guardrails, safety nets or fall arrest systems. Open holes in the floor should either be guarded or protected by a guardrail and should be covered with a hole covering that can support at least twice the weight of employees, equipment or materials that may be carried over the top of the covered hole at any one time.

Ladders can be another large source of fall injury accidents. Ladders should be inspected each time they are to be used for defects, cracks or needed repairs. Care should be taken to position portable ladders properly with the side rails extending 3 feet or more above the landing. If it is not possible to reach 3 feet, extensions should be used, and ladders should be secured at the top to a steady support system.

Although preventative measures will never completely rid the workplace of accidents, people can reduce their risk by implementing them. Employers should strive to provide a safe and healthy work environment as required by OSHA. When an employee is injured at work, he or she should consider filing a workers' compensation claim in order to receive benefit to cover his or her treatment expenses and any income lost as a result of the accident.

Source: OSHA, "Preventing Falls", November 24, 2014

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