Company Gets Maximum Fine for Fall Protection Violations

OSHA cited Green Mountain Steel Erectors Inc., Bennington,\r\nVermont, steel erection contractor, for alleged willful and serious\r\nsafety violations at a Devens, Mass., jobsite.

OSHA cited Green Mountain Steel Erectors Inc., Bennington, Vermont, steel erection contractor, for alleged willful and serious safety violations at a Devens, Mass., jobsite.

OSHA has proposed $77,000 in fines -- the maximum penalty allowed -- against the firm for lack of fall protection for employees working in aerial lifts more than 25 feet above the ground.

The inspection was initiated when an OSHA inspector driving by a construction site in Devens observed employees working in aerial lifts without proper fall protection and opened an inspection on the spot, said Richard Fazzio, OSHA area director for Northeastern Massachusetts.

"The inspection found employees, including supervisors, working without fall protection in three aerial lifts at heights in excess of 25 feet above the ground," said Fazzio. "In each case, employees had required body harnesses and safety lanyards available but either were not using them or were using them improperly. In addition, one employee was observed standing on the middle rail of a lift basket during steel erection procedures, in plain view of a foreman. These conditions exposed workers to potentially fatal falls."

Fazzio explained that falls are a leading cause of worker deaths in construction and that about 253 American workers died in construction related falls in 1999, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"The best safety equipment in the world won''t protect workers if it isn''t used, and used properly," said Fazzio. "Even though this employer knew that OSHA standards require that employees working in aerial lifts have body belts and lanyards that are attached to the boom or basket and that employees do not stand on or work from the basket''s siderails, these simple, clear, commonsense safeguards were disregarded."

Green Mountain Steel Erectors has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply or contest them.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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