OSHA Cites Florida Contractors for Exposing Workers to Fall Hazards

OSHA cited two contractors for failing to protect workers from fall hazards at a Jensen Beach, Fla., job site. The agency issued proposed penalties totaling $158,500 to Continental Painting, Waterproofing & Restoration Inc., and a proposed penalty of $2,500 to Safway Steel Products Inc.

Continental employees were replacing balconies and restoring the exterior stucco of two 10-story condominium buildings on South Ocean Drive on Oct. 17, 2002 when a Continental employee fell seven stories to the ground while drilling holes in the new concrete floor of a balcony. He died later that day at a trauma center. Safway Steel provided the scaffolding systems for the project.

"OSHA's safety standards for fall protection are designed to prevent a tragedy such as this," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "We are proposing the maximum penalties in this case, because Continental has been cited in the past for similar violations."

According to Luis Santiago, OSHA's area director in Ft. Lauderdale, the agency issued five repeat citations to Hollywood, Fla.-based Continental Painting, Waterproofing & Restoration. One, directly related to the accident, carries a proposed penalty of $35,000, for failing to provide workers with proper fall protection equipment. The others, each with a proposed penalty of $25,000, cited the company's failure to provide workers with appropriate personal protective equipment and scaffolding with proper fall arrest systems and guardrails.

A repeat citation is issued when a company has been cited previously for a substantially similar condition and the citation has become a final order of the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The company received citations for other alleged serious safety violations, with $23,500 in proposed penalties.

Safway Steel Products Inc. received a serious citation, with a proposed penalty of $2,500, for failing to properly install the suspension scaffolds. OSHA issues a serious citation when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which an employer knew or should have known.

The companies have 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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