Federal inspectors with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration were recently reviewing safety at a Florida construction site when they looked up to see a familiar sight: workers installing shingles on a roof with absolutely no fall protection. The sight was a familiar one because, according to OSHA, it was the eighth time in five years this roofing contractor had been cited for this offense. Specifically, the company is accused of failing to protect workers from falls by ensuring those working at six feet or higher have the benefit of some type of fall arrest or protection system.
U.S. safety standards outlined in 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(13) require that workers in these conditions must be given at least a personal fall arrest system, a safety net, or a guardrail.
On seven prior occasions since 2011, this company had been cited for repeated, willful, and serious violations for its failure to provide fall protection systems, as well as a lack of eye protection. Several workers were spotted working with powered nail guns with zero eye protection.
For this most recent incident, the company was cited for two repeated violations and one serious violation. The third error was in failing to extend a portable ladder three feet above the landing area.
A representative of the federal agency said that while the company repeatedly espouses its commitment to family values, it hasn’t upheld its promises to workers and their families to keep them safe. In fact, they repeatedly jeopardize the lives and well-being of these workers by not protecting them from serious injury or death when they are working at potentially hazardous heights. OSHA reps say the employer is fully aware of the safety standards, and yet it has repeatedly violated federal safety laws.
The agency commonly touts the importance of proper fall protection systems because falls comprise such a significant portion of work-related injuries, particularly in the construction industry. Historically, falls have been the No. 1 cause of deaths among construction workers, resulting in one-third of the entire industry’s fatalities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2013, there were nearly 300 fall-related deaths in the construction industry, out of nearly 830 total.
Although it might seem simple to identify the cause of a fall, often it is actually a complex event. It usually involves a variety of different factors, which is why standards set for fall protection deal with both equipment-related and human error issues.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report the most common circumstances associated with falls at work in general include:
- Slippery, cluttered, or unstable walking and working surfaces;
- Edges that are unprotected;
- Wall openings and floor holes;
- Ladders that are not safely positioned; or
- Fall protection that is misused or not used at all.
Workers who have suffered an injury due to a fall should speak with a workers’ compensation lawyer, who will not only help you pursue those benefits but also examine the facts of your case to determine whether you have grounds for a third-party lawsuit from which you could collect damages not just for medical bills and full lost wages but also for pain and suffering.
Contact the Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
More Blog Entries:
Hood v. State, ex rel. Department of Workforce Services – Work Injury Claim, Nov. 9, 2016, Charlotte Work Injury Lawyer Blog