OSHA Fines Georgia Contractors Nearly $61,000 Following Fatal Accident

Sept. 9, 2002
Failing to protect workers from impalement hazards at a Gulf Breeze, Fla., drug store construction site may cost two Georgia contractors a total of $60,900, according to citations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The agency began an inspection following an April 20 accident that killed a 32-year-old laborer who fell from a scaffold onto a protruding reinforcing steel bar, known as a rebar. The worker was employed by Canton, Ga.-based Chadwick T. Wallace Inc., a subcontractor at the site where Cannon/Estapa General Contractors Inc., also headquartered in Canton, was the general contractor.

"Cannon/Estapa failed to take appropriate action even after sub-contractors on the job informed the general contractor that the protruding rebar needed to be covered," said James Borders, OSHA's Jacksonville area director. "Employers must take immediate action once they are aware of serious safety hazards that can cause injury or death."

The general contractor was cited for a willful violation for not guarding the protruding rebar and a serious violation for poor housekeeping. Proposed penalties for the alleged violations total $50,050.

OSHA issued three serious citations against Chadwick T. Wallace for not guarding the rebar to eliminate impalement hazards, not providing safe access to scaffolds and poor housekeeping. The sub-contractor was fined $10,850 for the alleged violations. According to OSHA, neither employer had a safety and health program in place.

OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSH Act and regulations. A serious violation is one where there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

Each company has 15 working days to contest the OSHA citations and proposed penalties before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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