OSHA Proposes $55,600 in Fines Following Fall at Pembroke, Mass., Worksite

Nov. 19, 2008
OSHA has cited a Marshfield, Mass., steel erection contractor for a total of 14 alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards after an employee fell 20 feet at a Pembroke, Mass., job site on June 12. Brian Barnes, doing business as Barco Metal Fabrication, faces a total of $55,600 in proposed fines following an OSHA inspection opened the day of the accident.

OSHA’s inspection found employees at the job site performing steel erection work at heights of 20 feet without effective fall protection. OSHA’s steel erection standard requires that an effective form of fall protection, such as safety belts and lanyards, guardrails or safety nets, be in place and in use.

In this case, the absence of such safeguards resulted in OSHA issuing Barco one willful citation, with a proposed fine of $28,000. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

“Employees are just one step away from possible death or disabling injuries when fall protection is lacking,” said Brenda Gordon, OSHA’s area director in Braintree. “While no death resulted from this fall, there is no excuse for an employer, particularly one who knows what's required, not to supply and ensure the use of this vital safeguard at all times.”

The inspection also identified a variety of other fall, steel erection and impalement hazards. These included an improperly anchored and rigged harness and lifeline; lack of training in how to operate and recognize hazards associated with aerial lifts; lack of ladder safety training; inadequate ladder access; inadequately braced steel joists; beginning steel erection without receiving written notification that concrete and masonry mortar was of sufficient strength to support loads; removing anchor bolts without a structural engineer’s approval; unguarded rebar; damaged welding leads; and failure to have a competent person conduct frequent and regular jobsite inspections to identify hazards.

These conditions resulted in the issuance of 13 serious citations, carrying $27,600 in fines. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.

Detailed fall protection information is available on OSHA’s Web site at www.osha.gov/SLTC/fallprotection/index.html while information on steel erection is available at http://www.osha.gov/doc/steelerection/index.html.

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