The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently cited general contractor Seneca Steel for failing to protect their employees from fall hazards.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), falls, slips, and trips increased 10 percent to 793 in 2014, compared to 724 in 2013. Data showed that the increase was driven largely by an increase in falls to a lower level, which increased by 9 percent, and falls on the same level, which increased by 17 percent.
Ohio Construction Contractor Cited for Inadequate Fall Protection
OSHA received a report of unsafe working conditions at the Columbus building site, and conducted an inspection on July 12, 2016. They found that the employees had inadequate fall protection, and were exposed to potential falls of up to 60 feet as they welded and attached steel braces.
The investigation further determined that the contracting companies failed to ensure workers attached themselves to the basket when working the aerial lift, failed to provide fall protection, and failed to train employees on how to operate aerial lifts and understand fall hazards.
On October 19, 2016, OSHA issued violations to the employer, Seneca Steel Erectors Inc., a construction labor contractors, as well as to the Daimler Group, the employment agency that provided the workers.
Larry Johnson, OSHA’s area director in Columbus, stated that the companies had needlessly put workers at risk, asking them to “walk steel and work in aerial lifts at heights of 60 feet without fall protection.” He added that both companies shared control of the work site and both were responsible for protecting the employees’ safety and health.
Seneca Steel was cited for eight serious and two repeated violations, with proposed penalties of $92,286. The company was previously cited for the same violations in February 2013 at a job site in Dublin.
The Daimler Group was also cited for failing to conduct site inspections or train workers in avoiding fall hazards. Proposed penalties totaled $17,460.
OSHA Working to Increase Awareness of Falls in Construction
OSHA launched a new “Fall Prevention Campaign” in 2012, to provide employers with educational materials on how to better protect their workers. They note that falls are the leading cause of death in construction, but that these deaths are preventable.
OSHA partnered with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) to help raise awareness among employers and employees about how common fall hazards are in construction, and how they can be prevented.
Some of the steps that OSHA suggests employers take include:
- Plan projects to ensure the job is done safely.
- Include safety equipment when estimating the cost for a job.
- Provide the right equipment to protect workers at all times.
- Regularly inspect all fall-protection equipment to be sure it’s still safe to use.
- Train everyone on the use of the equipment, as well as on hazard recognition.
These and other guidelines are available through OSHA’s website, giving employers no excuse for allowing workers to get injured on the job.