Monday, November 23, 2020

OSHA Continues Handing Out Fines for Lack of Fall Protection

Construction is still running in high gear across the country and with the shortage of even the most unskilled labor for these projects and houses, many builders and General Contractors are taking shortcuts in order to get the job done.

But fear not, OSHA is still out there searching for the causes of accidents on the jobsite and handing out fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Protecting laborers from falling is one of the top construction areas that OSHA not only looks at after an accident, they are also actively looking at the builder’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages for violations blatantly posted of workers working on roofs and in trenches with total disregard to safety protocol.

Here are just a few of this year’s 3rd Quarter OSHA fines for non-compliance for fall protection. Not sure about you but I sure couldn’t take a $150,000+ fine simply because I didn’t spend 30 minutes training new hires about fall protection.

Here are just a few examples:

K & R Construction

Millersburg, Ohio

Total Proposed Fines: $217,127

Status: Violations Under Contest

In July, OSHA cited roofing contractor K & R Construction Ltd. for three serious and four willful violations, most of them related to fall protection, after inspecting one of the firm's projects in North Canton, Ohio. 

OSHA found that K & R:

  • Allowed portable ladders with side rails that extended less than 3 feet above the upper landing surface to be used without the proper safeguards.
  • Did not provide adequate fall protection for employees working at heights of 6 feet above lower levels.
  • Did not ensure that its employees use protection when exposed to eye or face hazards.
  • Failed to ensure employees used adequate head protection.
  • Did not adequately train employees about stairway and ladder hazards.
  • Failed to ensure that construction debris was kept clear from work areas, passageways and stairs.
  • Did not designate a competent person to regularly inspect the site.

Freddy Acevedo

Dundee, Florida

Total Proposed Fines: $165,788 

Status: Pending Abatement of Violations, Pending Penalty Payment

In January, according to OSHA, contractor Freddy Acevedo was working on a project in Davenport, Florida, when a building collapse killed one of his employees. Prior to the collapse, Acevedo's employee was installing roof trusses along a wall. When the trusses and wall collapsed, the employee sustained fatal injuries from the fall and from being struck by falling building materials. 

OSHA fined Acevedo with one willful and six serious violations, including failure to:

  • Initiate and maintain programs related to general safety.
  • Provide adequate head protection.
  • Ensure that each powered industrial truck operator is capable of operating the truck.
  • Protect workers from falling by providing guardrail systems, safety net systems or personal fall arrest systems.
  • Provide proper training to those employees who might be exposed to fall hazards.
  • Make sure employees safely use portable ladders to access upper landings.
  • Provide a workplace free from recognized hazards.

Jerry Turnbaugh

Dublin, Ohio

Total Proposed Fines: $148,430

Status: Pending Abatement of Violations, Pending Penalty Payment

OSHA issued five willful citations to roofing contractor Jerry Turnbaugh for failing to provide adequate fall protection on three construction sites in Pickerington, Ohio, in May and June of this year. 

Specifically, OSHA said that Turnbaugh did not:

  • Develop and maintain a safety and health program.
  • Failed to properly train employees about fall hazards.
  • Did not use fall protection systems to protect employees.
  • Failed to require and enforce the use of fall protection when employees were working at heights of more than 6 feet.

Swiss Construction

Brinkhaven, Ohio

Total Proposed Fines: $138,853

Status: Penalty Payment Plan in Place; Pending Abatement of Violations, Penalty Plan in Place

OSHA inspected two Swiss Construction project sites this summer — one in June and the other In August — and found the company had committed several infractions related to fall protection. As a result, the agency proposed total fines of $138,853. 

Swiss, according to OSHA, failed to:

  • Rig employees so that they would not fall more than 6 feet.
  • Provide a training program about recognizable hazards for employees who might be exposed to them.
  • Protect employees through the use of guardrail systems, a safety net system, a personal fall arrest system or alternative fall protection measures.
  • Initiate and maintain the necessary programs to protect the general safety and health of its employees.

Of the one repeat and three serious violation citations OSHA issued to Swiss, however, the agency deleted two of the serious citations and negotiated the total fines down to $34,005.

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