Making Worker and Pedestrian Safety a High Priority: Guidelines to Use When Developing a Robust Walking-Working Surfaces Program

As the saying goes: “Safety isn’t expensive, it’s priceless.”

Falls on level – slips, trips and falls – can be some of the most debilitating and expensive injuries workers can suffer and contribute to a surprising number of worker deaths each year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that “on average, slips, trips and falls cause nearly 700 fatalities per year.” As such, it’s become increasingly clear that this requires attention as well as improved practices and programs.

OSHA’s Standards and Recommended Practices


Designed to protect workers from injuries caused by problematic walking-working surfaces, OSHA updated its existing standards in 2017 and now include training and stricter risk mitigation practices and procedures (e.g. more inspections). Organizations ultimately are responsible for ensuring that they develop walking-working surfaces programs.

Effective Walking-Working Surface Programs: Insights and Tactical Recommendations by Industry Experts


With over 25 years of experience under his belt, Scott Gaddis, … Read more...

OSHA Guidance for the Construction Industry During Coronavirus Disease 2019

OSHA recently published COVID-19 Guidance for the Construction Workforce.

(This Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) blog is reprinted with permission from the authors and from the law firm of Greenberg Traurig, LLP.)

We have issued several GT Alerts on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Our first Alert, published Jan. 31, 2020, provided general information on OSHA requirements and steps for employers to consider as COVID-19 began to appear in the United States, before work shutdown and shelter orders were in place.

The second alert, published March 25, 2020, provided guidance for essential workers. The third alert, published April 14, 2020, examined whether an employee’s COVID-19 case is work-related and recordable. This fourth alert covers recently published guidance provided by OSHA for the construction industry, “COVID-19 Guidance for the Construction Workforce.”

List of COVID-19 Recommendations

Although OSHA targeted the construction industry, this concise list … Read more...

Is COVID-19 a Workplace Illness? OSHA Attempts to Clarify Recordkeeping

OSHA hopes its latest enforcement guidance helps employers focus their response efforts on implementing good hygiene practices in their workplaces and otherwise mitigating COVID-19’s effects.

OSHA has issued interim guidance for enforcing its recordkeeping requirements (29 CFR Part 1904) as they relate to recording cases of COVID-19.

Under OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements, COVID-19 is considered a recordable illness, and employers are responsible for reporting cases of COVID-19 as workplace injuries and illnesses if the case:

  • Is confirmed as a COVID-19 illness;
  • Is work-related as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5; and
  • Involves one or more of the general recording criteria in 29 CFR 1904.7, such as medical treatment beyond first aid or days away from work.

In areas where there is ongoing community transmission, many employers may have difficulty making determinations about whether workers who contracted COVID-19 did so due to exposures at work, making accurate injury and illness reporting … Read more...

Don’t Let Slips and Falls on Walking Working Surfaces Bring You Down

Ice and snow, oily surfaces, slick floors, and trip hazards not only can cause slips and falls that injure employees, they can kill employees.

We’ve all taken a fall on ice or a slippery surface. Hopefully, the only thing that got bruised was our ego. That’s not always the case; emergency rooms fill with people suffering from fall injuries that occur on walking and working surfaces when water, oil, ice, and snow make walking surfaces slippery.

Workers are not immune to same-surface slips and falls, and OSHA recognized this fact. That’s why OSHA issued a final rule on Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems. The goal of the rule is to better protect workers in general industry from these hazards by updating and clarifying standards and adding training and inspection requirements.

What’s in the Walking-Working Surfaces Standard?

The rule, which became effective in January 2017, incorporates advances in technology, … Read more...

OSHA Releases Guidance About Preparing the Workplace for the Threat of COVID-19

OSHA urges employers to take measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

OSHA has released a guidance about best practices for COVID-19 and the workplace. The “Guidance for Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19” planning guidance is based on traditional infection prevention and industrial hygiene practices. It focuses on the need for employers to implement engineering, administrative, and work practice controls and personal protective equipment (PPE).

For employers who have already planned for influenza pandemics, planning for COVID-19 may involve updating plans. These plans could address the specific exposure risks, sources of exposure, routes of transmission, and other unique characteristics of SARS-CoV-2.

Employers who have not prepared for pandemic events can still take steps to prepare their workplaces and workers. It’s not too late to create a business continuity plan. In addition, provide cross-functional training for workers so that they can step in for quarantined coworkers … Read more...

Occupational Fatalities in 2018 Up 2 Percent: Workplace Overdoses, Suicides on the Rise

The most recent Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Report, released by The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS), shows the rate of fatal work injuries increased by 2 percent in 2018 – the fourth such increase in five years – and two statistics stand out.

Tragically, unintentional overdoses at work increased by 12 percent in 2018 — the sixth consecutive annual increase and a reflection of the broader opioid crisis that the United States is facing. OSHA has teamed with the National Safety Council (NSC) on the release of a toolkit to help employers address opioid abuse in their workplaces and support workers in recovery.

Unintentional overdoses from nonmedical use of drugs or alcohol increased for the sixth consecutive year, claiming 305 lives in 2018 compared with 272 the previous year, the NSC noted. Meanwhile, work-related motor vehicle deaths declined, totaling 1,276 in 2018 from 1,299 in 2017. In addition, falls … Read more...

Fall Protection Tops List of Top 10 Most Cited Violations

Fall protection once again tops the list of OSHA’s most cited violations, followed by hazard communications and scaffolding violations.

The National Safety Council and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the preliminary Top 10 most frequently cited workplace safety violations for fiscal year 2019 in San Diego at the National Safety Congress.

Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA directorate of enforcement programs, presented the Top 10 on the Expo floor as part of the NSC 2019 Congress and Expo, the world’s largest annual gathering of safety professionals.

The rankings for OSHA’s Top 10 most cited violations typically vary little from year to year; Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501) tops this year’s list for the ninth consecutive year. Eye and Face Protection (1926.102), a newcomer to last year’s list, remains in the No. 10 spot. Like the other most cited violations, fatalities and injuries related to fall … Read more...

A History of Labor Day’s Impact on Health and Safety

September 2, 2019 Marks the 125th Anniversary of Labor Day 

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American and Canadian workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our countries. 

From the events that shaped the start of the labor movement to the often-tragic events that shaped workplace safety and health, the contributions and sacrifices of people made over the past 125 years has shifted worker safety from reactive to preventative.  

The future, though, is predictive and through connected people, processes, and “things,” technology has the potential to create a zero/zero future: zero worker harm/zero worker deaths. 

While past events like the founding of Labor Day and disasters like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire have helped shape the practice of health, safety and industrial hygiene, recent events – such … Read more...

Keeping Employees Safe + Sound: Best Practices

Connecting workers via mobile apps and software systems put safety at their fingertips 

Safe + Sound Week is a nationwide event held each August that recognizes the successes of workplace health and safety programs and offers information and ideas on how to keep America’s workers safe.  

Successful EHS management systems identify, manage and eliminate workplace hazards before they cause injuries and illnesses for employees, damage assets and create environmental issues. August 12-18, 2019 is dedicated to Safe + Sound Week this year. Safe + Sound Week is a good time to get your EHS management system started, energize your existing program and provide a chance to recognize EHS successes. 

14 U.S. Workers Killed Each Day 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of worker deaths and reported injuries in the United States has decreased by more than 60 percent in the past four decades since the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act was passed. However, every year, more than 5,000 … Read more...

OSHA Forecast Sees Inspections, WV Measures – and Even Drones – On the Rise

A leadership vacuum, a surprising increase in enforcement activity, and the potential “rise of the drones” all characterize OSHA as it closes the books on 2018 and moves into 2019.

These were some of the observations that representatives of Conn Maciel Carey LLP, a Washington, D.C.-based law firm specializing in occupational health and safety issues, put forth during a recent webinar. Hazards, injuries, prevention measures, preparedness, preventing fatalities and general occupational safety and health reigned top of mind while looking into the coming 2019 year.

In reviewing key OSHA developments in 2018, Eric Conn, Chair of the firm’s OSHA Workplace Safety Practice Group, said the most notable event of 2018 was a non-event – namely, the lack of an appointment of an Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA. “We’re nearly two years into the Trump administration and there is still [no one in the role],” he said. “We have … Read more...