On November 14, 2013, a roofer working with Fairview Contractors Inc. fell to his death while performing roofing work at a condominium in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. According to a recent news release from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), OSHA’s investigation into the incident resulted in citations to the employer for two willful violations for the lack of fall protection, and for five serious violations for additional hazards. Those violations were as follows
- Willful Violation – Employer failed to ensure that employees working from scaffolds approximately 17 feet high had adequate protection from falls by the use of personal fall arrest systems or appropriate guardrail systems.
- Willful Violation – Employer failed to provide employees engaged in construction activities 17 feet above the ground with guardrail systems, a safety net system, a personal fall arrest system, or an alternative appropriate fall protection measure.
- Serious Violation – Employer failed to install guardrail systems on scaffold walkways that connected one scaffold to another.
- Serious Violation – For employees who performed work on a scaffold, or who were involved in erecting, disassembling, moving, operating, repairing, maintaining, or inspecting a scaffold, the employer failed to train those employees to recognize the hazards associated with such work and to understand how to control and minimize those hazards.
- Serious Violation – Employer did not train employees who were exposed to fall hazards to recognize those hazards and how to minimize the fall risk.
- Serious Violation – Employer failed to ensure that employees used extension ladders with appropriate side rails, particularly while employees used the ladders to carry roofing materials up the ladder, which could cause the employee to lose balance and fall.
- Serious Violation – Employer did not train employees using extension ladders to recognize the hazards relating to that work and how to minimize those hazards.
OSHA proposed penalties for these violations totaling $119,350. In addition, OSHA has placed Fairview Contractors in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, designed to target employers who have committed willful, repeat, or failure-to-abate violations for frequent follow-up inspections.
The news release emphasized the “needless and avoidable” nature of the roofer’s fall to his death, noting that falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, despite how simple it is to identify and eliminate the risk of fatal falls. The citations were issued just weeks before the kick-off of OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down, an event designed to encourage employers to speak directly with their employees about fall hazards and reinforce the importance of fall prevention.