Fall Protection violations and OSHA fines totalling $154,440.00 were recently reported for a Pennsylvania contractor. An article released today says it was the result of a random drive by inspection. The OSHA enforcement officer driving by noticed unsafe scaffolding triggering a visit.
The article written by Business Management Daily states;
"A random coincidence has resulted in a costly fine for a Lancaster County construction firm. OSHA cited Quality Stone Veneers for eight safety violations after an OSHA inspector noticed substandard scaffolding when he drove by a residential construction site"
The OSHA violations include failure to train employees to recognize hazards, failure to train workers, failure to properly erect scaffolding, failure to use fall arrest or guard rails when working over 10 feet, improper planking, planking set improperly and more. OSHA has published the citation and violations. (To view citation click here)
It appears that 2011 reports that OSHA would be aggressively enforcing fall protection throughout the country are coming true. OSHA Press Releases like the one in this article are coming out several times a week. Job sites with OSHA violations visited 6-9 months ago are just nearing the end of the adjudication process. Once OSHA determines that fines are justified the information can be released.
I am writing about this because several contractors have contacted me and claimed that the OSHA fall protection subject is just a scare tactic. They claim that they haven't seen OSHA in their areas so it must be a rumor, why bother with the training? Not following fall protection standards can lead to injuries, significant fines, work stoppages. Recent OSHA Press Releases and Outreach prove it is not rumor or scare tactics. Recent press releases involve the larger fine amounts. On a weekly basis we have been told by contractors that they have been fined with no press release on them. I cannot say for sure what the OSHA logic is on reporting fines but it appears the small fines under $10,000 are not hitting the news. Last week a Massachusetts contractor reported he paid OSHA $4,000.00 for a ladder violation earlier this year. A New Hampshire contractor said he just paid $3,000.00 for someone who did not have his harness secured to an anchor point. No press releases.
As the summer concludes and the fall progresses we predict there will be numerous OSHA fine press releases from site visits late last year to the spring of 2012. OSHA continues to promote that OSHA Fall Protection compliance in the residential industry as a number one priority.
Last week Region 1 OSHA Compliance assistant Specialist Tim Irving, announced on Eastern Mass NARI Group on LinkedIn many agencies have joined together to promote Fall Protection. Tim wrote: "More than 10,000 construction workers were hurt and another 225 died in 2010 after falling from a height, according to BLS CFOI data. Falls are the leading cause of work-related injury and deaths in construction, and almost two-thirds of fatal falls in construction occur among workers employed by small firms with 10 or fewer employees. NIOSH, OSHA, CPWR-The Center for Construction Research and Training, and the NORA Construction Sector Council have launched a national campaign to prevent construction falls."
Moving forward the best steps for residential contractors is to first adopt the OSHA Fall Protection Safety Standards to protect workers and second avoid the possibility of OSHA fines for not following them.