OSHA initiated its inspection in December 2010 following a referral stemming from a local emphasis program on fall hazards.
“Falls are a leading cause of injury and death in the workplace. It's the employer’s responsibility to provide a fall protection program that ensures employees are properly trained and equipped,” said Charles E. Adkins, OSHA’s regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. “Employers must make safety priority number one and take all necessary steps to eliminate hazards from the workplace.”
One willful citation with a penalty of $56,000 was issued for allowing employees to work at heights greater than 6 feet without fall protection. A willful violation exists when an employer has demonstrated either an intentional disregard for the requirements of the law or plain indifference to employee safety and health.
Two grouped serious citations with penalties of $5,600 were issued for failing to properly certify that the employees were trained to recognize fall hazards and the appropriate abatement methods, and to retrain those employees exposed to the fall hazards prior to allowing them to continue working at heights. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Additionally, one other-than-serious citation, with a penalty of $2,400, was issued for failing to record injuries and illnesses in the OSHA 300 log. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
OSHA standards require that an effective form of fall protection, such as guardrails, safety nets or personal fall arrest systems, be in use when workers perform residential construction activities 6 feet or more above the next lower level. Detailed information on fall protection hazards and safeguards is available online at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/fallprotection/index.html.
The employer has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director in Omaha or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.