Accountability in a Worker Related Fall

Posted by MELISSA GIERLACH on

A fellow employee using the equipment you inspected took a serious fall while working at heights. Let’s assume you are the authorized person at your jobsite who performs the annual equipment inspections. Are you liable for this accident?

Documentation & Certification is Key

If a Competent Person performs the annual fall protection equipment inspection as required by OSHA’s mandatory semi-annual and annual requirements, then it’s important to show that this procedure has been documented and that the employee who performed the inspection has a current certificate on file. Even if you have gone above and beyond – including compliance with the manufacture’s recommendations and have followed the ANSI standard (Z359) – it is still a requirement to show this effort via documentation. Outcomes, which could include a lawsuit, will depend on it. It’s also worthy of noting that outcomes can vary depending on several factors such as: the OSHA representative, local OSHA office and/or state requirement, and what is uncovered during the investigation.

Remember, OSHA is the Law

OSHA will hold the employer responsible unless, through their investigation, they are able to prove willful negligence on behalf of the user and/or Competent Person. It is the employer’s responsibility to certify (or deem) an employee as a Competent Person and, ensure a safe and healthy workplace.

So, what does that mean? OSHA makes it clear that it is the employer’s responsibility to develop a fall protection program that complies with Federal, State, and Local Regulations. It also means that if you have been given the responsibility to inspect the equipment and are found to have an expired certificate, or that procedures were not documented properly, then the liability may fall on YOU.

What is the User’s Role?

What if all fall safety regulations and procedures were followed, and the authorized person who last inspected the equipment held a current certificate?

Did you know that as soon as that piece of equipment leaves the inspectors hands it is the RESPONSIBILITY of the user to inspect it before it is used? OSHA states in the regulations that a, “Pre use Inspection” (by the user or Authorized Person) of fall protection equipment is required before each use. This means that each time fall protection is taken out on a job site, the user of that equipment must do a self-inspection before donning in it.

Gaining the knowledge and skills to identify and avoid hazards will not only ensure your safety but also the safety of everyone around you.

Let Us Lighten the Load

If you want the peace of mind that you are meeting regulatory compliance, reducing your company’s liability and saving on costs, Honeywell provides various fall protection equipment inspection services that meet OSHA’s mandatory semi-annual and annual requirements.

Train Your Employee(s) As A Competent Person

Your company is responsible for the safe use and inspection of equipment. If you would like to train your employees to be compliant, work safely and understand proper use of fall protection equipment, we offer a 16-hour Honeywell Competent Person class virtually or in-person. For more details, check out our website:

Whatever your responsibility is within the company, your safety and the safety of your co-workers come first. Training will help create a safety-first culture within the workplace along with saving lives.      


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