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The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently cited and fined a Georgia company $119,350 after a fatal work site accident.
OSHA fined Apple Siding and Framing following a fatality at a Decatur, GA, construction site. Raymond Finney, OSHA’s Atlanta-East area director, says one worker was killed when he fell 21 feet from the third floor of an apartment building under construction to the concrete floor below. The victim’s employer, Apple Siding, was hired by the project’s general contractor to perform rough framing of the building.
Following an inspection of the facility, OSHA cited Apple Siding with two willful violations of fall protection standards. The employer’s failure to use guardrails for fall protection and to train employees about fall hazards and the failure to use fall protection resulted in a $98,000 proposed penalty.
The remaining $21,350 fine was assessed for five serious safety violations involving various hazards associated with fall protection. These included placing lumber and materials at the edge of the floor, unguarded wall openings, no fall-protection plan for employees engaged in residential construction involving framing, blocked exit paths, and failure to enforce foot protection in an area where framing work was being done.
"Falls are one of the most common construction industry accidents," Finney says. "The victim in this case had been carrying lumber from one part of the building’s third floor to another using an unguarded, six-foot long walk made of boards nailed together and laid across an open, unconstructed breezeway."
OSHA issued a willful citation in this case due to the seriousness of the violation, Finney says. One of Apple Siding’s owners was on-site providing direct supervision when the fatality occurred, and the company knew about fall-protection hazards and OSHA standards and training requirements. "In fact, company officials had attended a fall-protection meeting conducted by the general contractor prior to the accident," he says.
Because the victim was of Hispanic origin, the OSHA area director stressed the importance of bi-lingual training.
"OSHA will hold employers responsible for training every employee at every job site regardless of their understanding of the English language," he says. "This is particularly important in a metro area like Atlanta where the construction industry draws large numbers of Hispanic and other non-English speaking workers. If ignorance of job hazards and proper work practices
is even partly to blame for high injury rates and fatalities, training will provide a solution."
Finney says "Apple Siding completely disregarded their responsibility to ensure that framers were properly trained and that necessary guardrails were in place to protect them from potentially fatal falls. This tragedy could have been prevented if the hazards at the construction site had been adequately addressed."
A willful violation is one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSH Act and regulations. OSHA defines a serious violation as one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.