Fatality Prompts OSHA Fines, Willful Citations

OSHA proposed $151,500 in fines against the WACO Equipment Co. of Columbus, Ohio, for alleged violations that contributed to the death of an employee in September.

OSHA opened an investigation after an employee complained that an outside hoist used to raise building materials to the upper floors during renovation of the Buckeye Building in Columbus had failed and an employee had fallen as a result.

Two willful citations with proposed penalties totaling $140,000 were issued alleging that the company failed to comply with the manufacturer's specifications in the operation of all hoists and elevators, and employees were directed to ride on the material hoist while erecting the hoist tower.

Three serious citations with proposed penalties of $11,500 were issued alleging a lack of guarding for rotating belts and pulleys, that lifelines used in personal fall-arrest systems were not protected from damage and that car-arresting devices were not installed to function in case of rope failure.

“The tragedy of serious injuries and fatalities resulting from falls is made worse by the fact that they are often preventable,” said Deborah Zubaty, director of OSHA's Columbus area office. “Employers need to be alert to hazards that may result in falls and to correct them before such incidents occur.”

According to the agency, WACO Equipment has had seven OSHA inspections since 2000 and has received seven serious OSHA violations during the past 3 years. The company employs more than 700 people at locations in several Ohio cities including Columbus, Cleveland and Akron.

A call made to WACO Equipment was not returned.

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