A construction worker recently fell to his death while on a work site in Vicksburg. He was among those fixing a roof issue at the convention center. Work sites like these can be dangerous places, which is why it’s important that workers know that there are regulations in place to protect workers.
Mississippi doesn’t have a state worker health and safety program approved by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as some states do. This means that in the absence of a state law the federal Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970 governs requirements in the private sector.
Among the OSHA requirements to protect workers if they fall are features like safety harnesses and lifelines, ensuring the safety of workers who enter confined spaces such as grain bins and manholes.
Other safety requirements include prevention of exposure to high levels of noise that can damage hearing, providing workers with respirators and other needed safety equipment (which is most cases are free of charge), and properly training workers using a language and vocabulary they can understand about the hazards and how they can protect themselves.
Reports indicate that the worker, who authorities identified as a 28-year-old man working out of Jackson, posted about the extremely hot weather on his social media hours prior to his death. Although there’s no evidence currently of a heat-related illness, it does underscore another thing about OSHA’s requirements: OSHA recommends the employers enforce various work/rest cycles, provide an opportunity for workers to build up a level of tolerance while working in the heat, and encourage employees to drink water often throughout the work day.
OSHA has started to crack down on companies and their oversights that may lead to the death or injury of employees. A Biloxi contractor is facing a $42,200 fine this week after exposing workers to a fall hazard up to 12 feet while they installed siding at an apartment complex, according to EHSToday.com. The contractor also allowed workers to use certain equipment without proper eye protection and did not install safe scaffolding, the report says.
Knowing what the safety requirements are, workers might still be afraid to report their employers. However, one of the biggest misconceptions workers have is that they will get fired for reporting unsafe working conditions to OSHA. This is not the case. In fact, 11 federal laws exist that authorize OSHA to help whistleblowers. Any adverse action that results directly from an employee’s report is considered discrimination. This includes being fired, receiving reduced pay, harassment, denial of benefits, and blacklisting, to name a few. Mississippi’s workers have 30 days to report discrimination to OSHA, and once reported, OSHA will launch a thorough investigation.
Getting hurt on the job sometimes happens, despite safety precautions and regulations. For information on common causes of construction accidents, who is liable for construction injuries, or the types of construction accident claims and lawsuits that exist, visit our construction accidents information page. If you’re ready to pursue a claim, fill out our free, no-risk case evaluation form today.