"Falls are preventable," OSHA Savannah area director John Deifer said. "This tragic accident would not have occurred if management had used safety equipment readily available."
OSHA began an investigation on Aug. 26 after being notified that a worker had died from injuries sustained in a fall from an elevated forklift platform. According to the OSHA investigative report, the employee was struck by a piece of electrical conduit as it was being removed from overhead beams, causing him to lose his balance and fall 8 feet to the floor below.
The company received one willful citation, with a proposed penalty of $49,000, for failing to provide standard guardrails on the pallet or fall arrest equipment for the employee. A "safety cage" equipped with standard guardrails was available in the warehouse, according to OSHA. OSHA issues a willful citation when an employer has shown an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.
OSHA also issued two serious citations unrelated to the fatal accident, with total proposed penalties of $2,250, for failing to have a "lockout-tagout" program that would prevent workers from being caught in or struck by energized equipment during repair or maintenance, and for operating a forklift with a defective safety signal.
The company has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Savannah area office.
Fall-related fatalities increased last year in the Southeast. Companies are encouraged to contact OSHA for information about its fall protection program to reduce these needless deaths. The program is separate and distinct from the agency's enforcement efforts.