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OSHA announces new rules affecting electrical lineworkers

Minnesota residents might take interest in new safety rules pertaining to electrical workers whose job involves climbing towers, poles and power lines. Whereas these workers had been heretofore unaffected by federal laws mandating the use of harnesses and other safety equipment for people who work at height, the new rules announced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will effectively force electrical lineworkers to conform to the standard safety requirements for climbing-related jobs.

In other words, the new rules outlaw 'free climbing," a common and longtime practice among electrical lineworkers. Reportedly, employers have until April 2015 to comply with the new rules. According to OSHA, employers must provide appropriate safety equipment for electrical lineworkers whenever they climb off the ground.

These new federal rules will save some 20 lives per year so long as employers comply with them, OSHA estimates. There are approximately 110,000 electrical lineworkers nationwide, reportedly. These workers are responsible for installing and repairing power lines and towers. According to OSHA, an average of 74 electrical lineworkers die yearly on account of worksite accidents, including falls.

Falls account for a notable portion of worksite accidents each year in America. Furthermore, these accidents often result in traumatic injuries that render victims unable to work and require costly long-term medical treatment. Workers injured due to such accidents are entitled to workers' compensation benefits irrespective of the circumstances involved in the accident.

Depending on the severity of the worker's injuries, these benefits may cover present and future medical expenses, lost income and disability. Because pursuing these benefits may be a difficult and adversarial process, many victims retain a workers' compensation attorney to advocate their claim, safeguard their rights and help them obtain maximum compensation.

Source: KUOW.org, "Feds Ban Free Climbing By Electric Utility Workers", John Ryan, July 23, 2014

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