Safety for Individuals Working Over or Near Water

What must construction site managers and employers do to protect workers who are engaged in work over or near water?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) addresses this concern in 29 CFR 1926.106, which provides for the following:

  • Employees working over or near water, where the danger of drowning exists, shall be provided with U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket or buoyant work vests.
  • Prior to and after each use, the buoyant work vests or life preservers shall be inspected for defects which would alter their strength or buoyancy. Defective units shall not be used.
  • Ring buoys with at least 90 feet of line shall be provided and readily available for emergency rescue operations. Distance between ring buoys shall not exceed 200 feet.
  • At least one lifesaving skiff shall be immediately available at locations where employees are working over or adjacent to water.

Although simply stated, these requirements have been the subject of numerous letters of interpretation over the years further clarifying their specific application to different hazardous situations posed to workers engaged in work over or near water. Examples of such clarifications include when and whether workers engaged in work over water while using continuous fall protection must wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets or buoyant vests.

If you or someone you love has suffered an injury working over or near water, call the experienced lawyers at Houston law firm Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner at 713-222-7211 or toll free at 1-800-870-9584 for a personal injury consultation.