On May 1, 2023, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that it has begun a National Emphasis Program (NEP) to prevent and reduce fall-related injuries and fatalities for people working at heights in all industries.
Falls from heights remain the leading cause of fatal workplace injuries. Although most of the citations involving fall protection occur in the construction industry, the NEP applies to all industries. The NEP establishes guidance for locating and inspecting fall hazards and allows OSHA compliance safety and health officers to open inspections whenever they observe someone working at heights.
“OSHA anticipates that most of the inspections will occur in construction because the majority of the fatal falls to lower levels each year occur on construction worksites,” according to the NEP. In addition to construction, the NEP will target the following activities: rooftop mechanical work and maintenance, utility work, tree trimming, holiday light installation, billboards, and power-washing of buildings, etc. “For other non-construction work activities where a worker is observed working at height, an inspection may be initiated upon approval by area office management.” The NEP gives regional and area offices considerable discretion in how much effort, if any, to devote to programmed enforcement.
The NEP also includes OSHA compliance assistance resources related to fall protection. Employers should review the OSHA compliance assistance resources to prepare for potential inspections.
Please contact your Husch Blackwell workplace safety attorney for more information about OSHA enforcement and compliance.