New OSHA 2015 Protections for Workers

New Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations went into effect in 2015, and more are being contemplated over the course of the year. The major areas with new regulations are:

  • Injury and illness recordkeeping and reporting
  • Slips, trips, and fall protection
  • Confined spaces in construction.

Other OSHA proposals for the year that are not yet regulations include:

  • Chemicals management and permissible exposure levels. OSHA is seeking information on addressing outdated levels standards.
  • Safety management processes and the prevention of chemical accidents.
  • New regulations for communication towers workers.
  • Occupational exposure to silica and beryllium.
  • Workplace exposure to beryllium.

Injury and Illness Recordkeeping and Reporting

Employers are now required to report each work-related inpatient hospitalization, including amputations and eye losses, to OSHA within 24 hours. The new regulations affect all employers covered by OSHA. Work-related fatalities must still be reported within eight hours, as long as the fatality occurred within 30 days of the occupational injury. The eight-hour and 24-hour limits are from when the employer first learns of the incident, not when the incident occurred.

Employers still exempt from the reporting are those with ten or fewer employees during the previous calendar year and businesses which are considered low-hazard: retail establishments, finance, insurance, real estate, and the service industry.

Slip, Trip, and Fall Protections

The provisions dealing with protections that prevent injuries from falls had been languishing since 1990, but will finally take effect. The new regulations also establish standards for personal fall protection systems. Such systems must prevent a worker from falling and must arrest the fall without allowing the worker to strike something or suffer internal injuries.

Confined Spaces in Construction

OSHA has now applied its confined-space regulations for general industry to the construction industry, extending protections to workers in construction.

Still on the Drawing Board

OSHA has yet to rule on new standards for personal exposure levels to crystalline silica and beryllium. Crystalline silica has been implicated in a number of occupational disease hazards, especially the often-fatal silicosis. Crystalline silica is a known hazard in mining, especially mining frac sand for the fracking industry, and for fracking well workers who use the sand.

Beryllium, which is found in coal, oil, certain rock, volcanic dust, and soil, can cause acute beryllium disease after heavy exposure of less than a year. Symptoms resemble bronchitis or pneumonia.

New regulations for communications tower workers are also still up in the air. Tower workers have over ten times the fatality rate of other construction workers. Other matters needing a decision include updated personal exposure levels for certain chemicals—proposed regulation would dictate stricter permissible levels—and process safety management in the case of chemical accidents.

Rulings are expected on all of the above by the end of 2015.

Downgraded Matters at OSHA

OSHA downgraded to “long-term action” the issues of combustible dust and backovers. Combustible dust in the workplace was responsible for 119 deaths and 718 injuries from 1980 to 2005. Backovers involve workers being struck by vehicles backing up on site.

Have Concerns? Talk With Us to Find Out More.

There is no substitute for proper legal help when making a workplace accident claim. Since 1959, the Louthian Law Firm has helped South Carolinians win compensation for occupational injuries. If you have questions about your health problems or your workplace rights, call the Louthian Law Firm in Richland County at (803) 454-1200, or use our online contact form to schedule a free and confidential consultation. Louthian Law Firm. Reasoned advice from seasoned professionals.