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New NFPA rule aims to create safer workplaces

OSHA safety codes are designed to prevent workplace accidents in North Carolina and throughout the country. These rules normally focus on a specific task per rule, such as the height of an electrical outlet from the floor. But a new rule takes a more comprehensive approach to the workplace.

National Fire Prevention Association Rule 70E focuses on a work zone rather than a single task. The rule was created pursuant to a request from OSHA to help eliminate electrical hazards. It is not a single rule, but a series of rules. It focuses on setting up, implementing and management of a work zone.

Rule 70E institutes a walkthrough prior to commencing work to identify potential hazards and how to best organize the work zone. As a part of organizing the work area, the goal is to prevent immediate contact with exposed electrical circuits as well as minimize the damage from electrical arcing. The rule should be seen as a work method where the supervisor takes into account physical space, human interaction, ergonomics and many other factors.

Though safety is a goal of the new rule, a byproduct is work efficiency. Poor job site planning is a common reason for inefficiency during construction. When a supervisor is required to preplan the worksite, however, there is generally less backtracking due to avoidable situations.

Despite OSHA rules, workplace injuries are still relatively prevalent in the U.S. The person who suffers the most is the injured worker. North Carolina has a workers' compensation program in effect to help out inured employees. However, some workers get denied the benefits they deserve. This is where an attorney could help with the appeals process.

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