ANSI Approves Workplace Falls Standard

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) has developed updated requirements to reduce workplace falls, the second-leading cause of on-the-job deaths.

ASSE recently published the American National Standard, Safety Requirements for Workplace Floor and Wall Openings, Stairs and Railing Systems.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) reapproved the standard A1264.1-1995 — first drafted in 1987 — acknowledging the document as a reasonable guideline for safety professionals to help reduce workplace falls in a variety of areas.

The standard establishes minimum safety requirements for entryways, including the requirements for fixed stairs, guardrails and handrails, and the requirements for protecting open-sided floors, platforms and runways. The standard also provides requirements for barriers and screens for wall openings as well as floor opening covers and treading for stairs.

In January, ASSE published an American National Standard, A1264.2 Standard for the Provision of Slip Resistance on Walking/Working Surfaces.

That standard was designed to reduce workplace slips, trips and falls. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, slips, trips and falls account for 15 percent of accidental workplace deaths.

For more information on the standards, use the ASSE link .

L.A. Transit Battles Workers’ Comp Fraud

Janitors, along with other employees at the Los Angeles transit agency, are the focus of an L.A. county prosecutor’s crackdown regarding workers’ compensation fraud.

Faced with skyrocketing workers’ compensation costs, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) plans to launch a program aimed at deterring its 9,000 employees from making false injury claims. A small, but significant, number of staff members have been abusing the workers’ compensation system.

The plan also will urge MTA workers, including janitors, maintenance workers and drivers, to turn in colleagues who fake injuries.

The L.A. deputy district attorney’s workers’ compensation fraud bureau recently met with MTA staff to warn of harsh legal consequences for those employees collecting money via false on-the-job injury claims.

“It was a good way for all of us to be aware of what our rights are and what could happen if we try to take advantage of workers’ compensation benefits,” says Jose Aguilar, an MTA general services supervisor who attended the meeting.

Since 1995, MTA workers compensation claim costs have doubled, and now are at $60 million a year. According to the MTA, it now spends roughly $6,500 per employee every year to pay for workers’ compensation.

“A lot of employees were shocked to hear how much was spent,” says Rick Jagger, spokesman for MTA.

If red flags are raised, the agency and the district attorney plan to monitor workers with video cameras on and off the job — hoping to catch them performing activities that clearly show there is no injury.

The district attorney said he is convinced that if he educates workers — by telling them how to use workers’ compensation properly, explaining what fraud is and urging them to call him if they know someone is taking advantage of the system — he can help reduce misuse of the system.

“There is a legit purpose for workers’ compensation,” Jagger says. “What we don’t applaud is when people use it to better their wallets.”

Relaxed California laws allowing workers time off with pay for such things as psychological stress, coupled with holes in health insurance coverage, sometimes can entice workers to take advantage of the system, experts say.