The Massachusetts Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the Lee-based contracting company Fairview Contractors Inc. after an investigation revealed that it had failed to provide protection for a worker who had fallen to his death in November of 2013.
The report, which was issued only recently this month, stated that the company did not provide any fall protection, which could have prevented the incident. The 51-year-old fell nearly 20 feet while he was performing roofing work on a condominium in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
“This was a needless and avoidable loss of a worker’s life. While guardrails and fall arrest systems were present at this work site, they were not used and were thus useless,” Mary Hoye, OSHA’s area director for central and western Massachusetts said in a statement. “Fatalities such as this will stop only when employers supply and ensure the use of effective and legally required fall protection safeguards on all job sites at all times.”
OSHA discovered that the four scaffolds on which the employees were working on lacked any fall-preventive guardrails as well as fall arrest systems. An additional fall hazard was presented from the lack of guardrails from the walkboards that the workers were using to move from one scaffold to the other. The report also found that Fairview had failed to train workers on how to identify hazards as well as how to work safely on scaffolding, roofs and ladders. Fairview was ultimately cited with two violations, including willful lack of fall protection and five serious violations for the remaining hazards. The company now faces fines of $119,350.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this worker’s fall was one of seven fatal falls to have occurred in the Massachusetts construction industry since 2012.
According to OSHA, falls remain at the top of the list of most common cause of injury and death to workers in the construction industry. Nearly 20% of all occupational injuries occur in this type of workplace, with. falls accounting for 35% of deaths, followed by struck by an object (10%), electrocutions (9%), and caught in-between injuries (2%). Considering the statistics, these “fatal four” accounted for more than 55% of all construction worker deaths in 2011.
In addition these ten standards were the 10 most frequently violated and cited by OSHA:
1. Fall protection
2. Hazard communication
4. Respiratory protection
5. Control of hazardous energy
6. Powered industrial trucks
7. Electrical, wiring methods, and equipment component malfunction
10. Electrical systems design
Because falls are especially prevalent in the construction industry, OSHA has launched a program to raise awareness of fall hazards and safeguards. A National Safety Stand-Down to prevent falls in construction will be conducted from June 2 to June 6 and will be a voluntary event in which employers talk directly to their employees about fall hazards and reinforce the importance of fall prevention. Participating employers will stop their work and provide a focused toolbox talk on a safety topic, such as ladder safety, fall protection equipment or scaffold safety. OSHA is encouraging employers and workers to participate. Detailed information on the Stand-Down is available at NationalSafetyStand-Down.
By OSHA standards, employers are responsible for ensuring their employees work in a safe and hazard-free environment, and have the proper training and tools to do their job safely as well as identify any dangerous threats to themselves and their co-workers.
When an individual is injured or killed on the job, by law the employer must report the incident to OSHA for a complete investigation. Additionally in Massachusetts, when a worker suffers a workplace injury, he or she is supposed to be covered by Workers’ Compensation Benefits. These benefits are supposed to guarantee a worker and his or her family compensation for medical bills, disability payments and lost wages, as well as compensation for permanent injuries, disfigurement, or scars. Acquiring these benefits can sometimes be challenging, and it is most advised that you speak to a licensed Workers’ Compensation Attorney to discuss your options after you have been involved in a workplace incident.
At the law offices of Altman & Altman, our team of experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorneys have nearly five decades of experience handling workers’ compensation and work injury cases. We will thoroughly investigate your work injury case and examine all avenues of recovery for you, including helping you access the finest healthcare available in the Commonwealth. Additionally, we will determine whether other parties are liable for your injury, such as the manufacturer of a defective piece of equipment or a negligent contractor, and we can file claims or lawsuits against all negligent parties so that you receive the compensation you deserve. If you or a loved one was the victim of a workplace injury, do not hesitate to call one of the seasoned attorneys at Altman & Altman. Our attorneys are available around the clock to assist you and all initial consultations are free and confidential.