Working In The Rain: Do You Know the Law?

October 01 2019
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Summer and early fall are the busiest seasons for construction specialists, building repairmen, window washers, gutter cleaners, roof technicians and many other people, who work at heights. However, no matter how warm the summer or fall are, rains are often unavoidable. Can your employees continue working at heights when it’s raining? How well do you know the law? All employers are required by law to keep their workers safe from the work hazards even if they are operating outdoors. Both federal and state laws talk about the hazards created by rain. Such agencies as OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) offer recommendations to employers about actions they have to take on rainy days in order to avoid possible hazards.

What Does OSHA Have to Say About Rain?

OSHA makes sure the safety-related federal labor laws are enforced either through state programs or directly. However, when it comes to working in the rain, this organization doesn’t have strict standards for the employers’ behavior. Meanwhile, it offers recommendations. For example, all employers should understand that rain boosts the number of hazards related to working with height access equipment. Reaching heights and moving heavy objects during rain could lead to injuries. If the rain comes with strong winds and fog, it could interfere with handling heavy loads or reaching the desired objects. In case there is a rainstorm which comes with lightning, height-access equipment could become a lightning rod. So according to OSHA, it’s the employers’ responsibility to stop all operation during rain if they can’t ensure due safety for their workers.

Are You Aware of Cold Stress Protection?

Even if your employees are duly protected from slip, fall and lightning hazards when it rains, they could still face cold stress. Work injuries caused by cold stress are hypothermia and frostbite. These conditions are usually associated with low temperatures. However, they can occur when the temperatures are fairly mild (around 50 °F) if they are combined with rain. OSHA recommends using special protective clothing for people working in rain so they can avoid cold stress. It’s important to note that employers should be paying for protective equipment. However, raincoats aren’t part of it. So it’s up to the employer to give workers recommendations about the way they should dress when working in rainy weather.

Do You Train Your Workers To Work in Rainy Conditions?

Rainy conditions could lead to electrocution as well as slips, falls, and drowning. All employees should be properly trained to react when such problems arise. The employer should provide proper protection equipment to prevent the above mentioned problems as well as to arrange rescue if necessary.

WHAT IS IPAF

The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) promotes the safe and effective use of powered access equipment worldwide in the widest sense – through providing technical advice and information; through influencing and interpreting legislation and standards; and through safety initiatives and training programmes. IPAF is a not-for-profit organisation owned by its members, which include manufacturers, rental companies, distributors, contractors and users. IPAF members operate a majority of the MEWP rental fleet worldwide and manufacture about 85% of platforms on the market.
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