What’s the hazard here? The employee is working from an unprotected side or edge without benefit of a fall protection measure.
Let’s just take a moment to acknowledge the concept of Behavior-Based Safety. Ultimately, we don’t know if this employee—dangerously perched on a ledge without benefit of fall protection—wasn’t given the correct equipment to do his work safely or trained to identify an unsafe behavior or if he made a choice. If it was a choice, then it was an unsafe behavior which put him in jeopardy of a fall.
Can this hazard be corrected? Certainly; one method to reach the area safely could include an aerial lift, which can articulate over the stairs. In that case, the employee could be working from an basket with a guardrail system.
Any laws around this? Yes.
29 CFR 1910.28(b)(1)(i) states, the employer must ensure that each employee on a walking-working surface with an unprotected side or edge that is 4 feet (1.2 m) or more above a lower level is protected from falling by one or more of the following: Guardrail systems; Safety net systems; or Personal fall protection systems, such as personal fall arrest, travel restraint, or positioning systems.
Conversation Starters: Have you ever done pre-shift meetings? Do you ever talk about the work being done that day and whether or not employees have the equipment and tools needed to do the job safely? Give it a try!