The deadly fact is this: Nearly 40 percent of all deaths in the construction industry are the result of a preventable fall. Yet, some employers continue to ignore the dangers and put their workers at risk of a debilitating or fatal fall.
A three-building apartment complex construction site in Lincoln, Neb., is where the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found construction contractors jeopardizing the safety and health of workers. The agency’s inspection resulted in citations for five companies working at the three-building complex.
Federal safety investigators observed seven workers employed by East Framing Inc. of Grimesland, N.C., exposed to fall hazards up to five stories high while they did framing work at the site in the 1800 block of P Street.
Other fall hazards included lack of or insufficiently strong midrails and gates, no personal safety equipment for employees working near wall openings, and no protection at ladder sites where floor openings exceeded nine feet.
In addition to East Framing, OSHA cited South Georgia Framers of Statesboro, Ga., for willfully exposing employees to falls and other safety hazards. The agency cited ProCon Construction Services LLC of Ailey, Ga., and America’s Best Siding of Fort Collins, Colo., for exposing workers to hazards on the site. Inspectors also cited Aspen Heights of Austin, Texas, the controlling employer contractor on the project.
"A worker’s life can be forever altered or ended in the seconds it takes to fall,” said Jeff Funke, OSHA’s area director in Omaha. “Controlling contractors and subcontractors have a responsibility to protect workers on its construction sites from falls which cause four out of 10 workplace fatalities in the construction industry. More tragic than that is the reality that these falls are preventable.”"
Following its December 2015 investigation, OSHA has issued citations as follows:
Fine: $65,450 for one willful and three serious safety violations.
South Georgia Framers:
Fine: $33,000 for one willful violation and three serious violations.
America’s Best Siding:
Additional violation: Employees were not provided effective information and training on hazardous chemicals in their work area. Workers were observed using Fortifiber Moistop Caulking, a weather proofing material, without training on the hazards of the material. Fine: $9,100 for six serous safety violations
Fine: $4,500 for three serious violations.
ProCon Construction Services LLC:
Fine: $3,150 for three serious violations.
Federal safety and health officials are determined to reduce the numbers of preventable, fall-related deaths in the construction industry. OSHA offers a Stop Falls online resource with detailed information in English and Spanish on fall protection standards. The page provides fact sheets, posters and videos that illustrate various fall hazards and appropriate preventive measures. OSHA standards require that an effective form of fall protection be in use when workers perform construction activities 6 feet or more above the next lower level.
The ongoing Fall Prevention Campaign was developed in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and NIOSH’s National Occupational Research Agenda program. Begun in 2012, the campaign provides employers with lifesaving information and educational materials on how to prevent falls, provide the right equipment for workers and train employees to use gear properly.
Each company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.