|The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has rejected a new set of fall safety standards drafted by the Arizona state legislature, saying the standards don’t take adequate measures to protect workers.
According to the Phoenix Business Journal article, workplaces, such as residential construction sites across the state, must now adhere to OSHA’s own standards for fall protection and safety. While Arizona can still draft regulations of its own, federal officials say it’s unlikely this will happen.
Falls are the number one cause of death for workers in the construction industry. In 2013, the most recent year with available data, 13 people died on construction sites throughout Arizona, with five of these deaths stemming from slips, trips and falls.
Under federal fall protection regulations, all Arizona workers are required to wear safety harnesses while working at any height above six feet; Arizona’s regulations, which were first instated in fall 2012, only required these harnesses for heights about 15 feet or higher.
While OSHA’s rejection of Arizona’s fall protection standards is intended to better protect workers from falls, many who work in the state’s construction industry say that following OSHA’s standards might do more harm than help.
In fact, requiring safety harnesses for workers at heights more than six feet is theoretically more dangerous “because residential construction sites use wood, which doesn’t make a strong anchor point for workers to tie off their harnesses,” a statement from the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona said.
OSHA officials will now monitor construction sites throughout Arizona to make sure they follow federal regulations rather than the rejected state standards, the Phoenix Business Journal reports.