Contractor Cited Following Fatal Worker Fall

OSHA cited Lauring Construction Co., Worcester, Mass., for two\r\nalleged willful safety violations following the death of a worker\r\nwho fell from a makeshift work platform.

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OSHA cited Lauring Construction Co., Worcester, Mass., for two alleged willful safety violations following the death of a workers who fell from a makeshift work platform at a Charlton, Mass., worksite.

The agency has proposed penalties of $42,000 against the company.

The victim was a plasterer employed by subcontractor Samia Management & Contracting of Oxford, Mass., on a renovation and repair project.

Lauring Construction was the general contractor and controlling employer on the project and thus had overall responsibility for ensuring compliance with safety and health standards, according to Ronald Morin, OSHA area director for central and western Massachusetts.

On March 20, 2001, the plasterer was working on the church''s third floor steeple.

He was standing on a portable ladder placed atop a makeshift work platform composed of two planks that were laid catty-corner across iron railing and covered with a sheet of plywood.

The wood dislodged and he fell 32 feet to the concrete floor beneath.

"This accident could have been prevented if two safety requirements had been followed: provide the worker with effective fall protection, and ensure he was working on a stable surface," said Morin. "These vital safeguards were ignored, and a worker died."

Noting data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that show falls are the leading cause of death in construction work, accounting for 253 deaths in 1999, Morin added, "This is a textbook example of why applicable safety standards must be followed on each and every jobsite. Sometimes, there is no second chance to do so."

Specifically, Lauring Construction was cited for:

  • failing to ensure that the plasterer was protected from falls by means of guardrails, safety nets or personal fall arrest system; and
  • failing to determine if the work platform had the strength and structural integrity to safely support the worker.

As part of OSHA''s ongoing efforts to help workers and employers lessen workplace accidents and deaths, the agency''s Web site www.osha.gov contains detailed information on the causes of and means of preventing construction-related falls.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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