Experts claim that fatalities attributed to a lack of fall protection are almost 100 percent preventable. A Florida company is learning that tragic and expensive lesson.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Professional Stucco of S. Florida Inc. for failure to safely attach scaffolding cables and train workers about fall prevention following a fatal accident at a Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., jobsite. The agency issued two citations and proposed fines of $58,500.
The citations and fine stems from an April 10 accident in which one employee died and another was seriously injured when they fell from suspended scaffolding. The accident occurred when one of the cables anchoring scaffolding to the building broke away. The workers, who were not wearing safety harnesses, slide off the platform to the ground - seven stories below.
"This tragic accident could have been prevented if the company had followed accepted industry standards," said Luis Santiago, OSHA''s Ft. Lauderdale area director. "Because of the hazardous nature of the construction industry, we have a fall protection special emphasis program in Florida to help employers; however, this employer chose not to protect its workers."
The company was issued a alleged serious citation for attaching scaffolding cables to a portion of the building that did not have the strength to hold the scaffold and failing to train workers about the equipment they were using, about fall hazards associated with the work they were doing, and about how to protect themselves from those hazards. Professional Stucco of S. Florida Inc received one alleged repeat citation for failing to inspect the scaffolding and equipment for defects and for failing to install guardrails and to provide protective equipment so that, even if the cable broke, the workers would be protected from falling.
Professional Stucco of S. Florida Inc., has 15 working days to contest OSHA''s citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Employers who want more information about OSHA''s fall protection program may call the compliance assistance specialist Vergie Bain at (954) 424-0242. This service is separate from the enforcement arm of the agency.
by Sandy Smith