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Guidelines for guardrails and fall protection

Louisiana workers and visitors to workplaces will be safest in buildings that follow the codes of both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the International Code Council regarding fall protection and guardrails. The International Building Code is the name of the safety code that has been developed by the ICC.

For the most part, buildings that have platforms, accessible roof spaces, landings and stairs must also have guardrails. Essentially, if there is a difference of more than 30 inches between two surfaces, a guardrail is necessary. OSHA requires a guardrail or fall protection system if a work area is greater than 6 feet higher or lower than the next level. These guardrails must also be installed properly. According to IBC guidelines, a guardrail or a fall protection system must be in place on rooftops. Another consideration is load levels. The IBC requires guardrails strong enough to hold 50 pounds per linear foot. OSHA standards require a guardrail to bear 200 pounds of pressure.

In addition to the risk to employees and visitors, failing to follow IBC and OSHA guidelines for fall protection and guardrails carries the risk of a fine. Each violation could cost a noncompliant business $100,000.

An employee may be injured on the job even if safety precautions are in place. The employee may still be eligible for workers' compensation following an on-the-job injury regardless of who was at fault. Whether this is an injury the employee can recover from, such as a broken bone, or an injury that causes permanent damage, such as a traumatic brain injury, workers' compensation may be critical in helping workers and their family through this difficult time. An attorney can often assist a worker in applying for workers' compensation and with appeals if the initial claim is rejected.

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