Construction Site Falls, Injuries & Fines

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Authored by attorney George M. Nicholos

Falls are the leading cause of death in construction according to the latest OSHA reports. OSHA or the Occupational Safety Health Administration was created by the Occupational Safety and Health Act enacted by Congress in 1970. Under the Act, employers have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace and MUST provide their workers with a workplace that does not have serious safety hazards and complies with OSHA safety and health standards, which includes requirements to provide fall protection measures.

In 2012 the most frequently cited OSHA standard was 29 CFR 1926.501 regarding fall protection, and not surprisingly, it was also the standard for which OSHA assessed the highest penalties during that same period. In fact, in a recent case in Ridgefield NY, a roofing company was cited penalties in the amount of $57,000 by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for failing to provide a safe and healthful workplace by not utilizing appropriate safety and fall protection measures, which resulted with a serious injury to one of its workers.

The violations involved failing to provide fall protection and proper training for roof workers. To compound matters the roofing company was also cited with repeat citations for failing to have ladders extended 3 feet above the roof edge and serious citations for failing to address instances where there was a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard that the roofing company or employer knew or should have known of.

Contractors, Builders, Owners, or any employer should plan ahead on all projects so as to provide the right equipment and training necessary to execute projects in strict accordance with OSHA standards. Failure to do so can result in citations ranging up to a maximum penalty of $7,000 for each serious violation and $70,000 for a repeat or willful violation of an OSHA standard. Failure to knowingly or repeatedly comply with OHSA standards can also result with increased exposure to damages through separate legal actions and the unintentional loss of insurance coverage.

These articles are meant to bring awareness to these topics and are not intended to be used as legal advice.

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