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Workplace injury: New fall prevention rule effective next month

There are approximately seven million worksites across the country, including many in Colorado, where the frequency of fall accidents will hopefully decrease after new safety standards to address fall prevention become effective on Jan. 17. The new rule aims to bring the fall prevention regulations up to date for all the industries in which fall hazards exist. The most significant change to the existing rule is that -- after Jan. 17 -- companies can choose the most appropriate fall protection methods for their particular industries. They may choose from several systems prescribed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to prevent fall-related workplace injury.

Authorities have been concerned because statistics have shown that the numbers of fall incidents have remained much the same for 2011 through 2013. Workplace injury numbers provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that approximately 5 percent of all incidents that resulted in injured or ill workers taking time off to heal involved falls to lower levels. Furthermore, fatalities caused by such falls made up 13 percent of all workplace deaths in 2013.

When it comes to the length of time necessary to recover from injuries, statistics show that the median time for workers to be absent from work after suffering other than fall injuries is eight days. However, 20 days are necessary to recover from injuries caused by falls to lower levels. Authorities are optimistic that these numbers will drop significantly once the new rule is effective.

In the meantime, any worker who has suffered a workplace injury in a fall accident that was severe enough to keep him or her from returning to work may face financial challenges. Fortunately, relief is obtainable by filing benefits claims through the Colorado workers' compensation insurance program. The benefits will cover medical expenses and a portion of lost income.

Source: lawweekonline.com, "OSHA's Fall Prevention Rule Goes Live Next Month", Doug Chartier, Dec. 19, 2016

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