construction business owner education and peer group program click to learn more

The Contractor Coaching Partnership Blog

Fall death, injury or OSHA fine, then contractors do training

Posted by Mark Paskell on Sun, Jan 03, 2016 @ 04:30 AM

Here's how it goes...someone falls and gets killed, someone gets injured, or OSHA audits a job site and cites/fines the contractor. Then after the unsafe act, the contractor has incentive to get on board with OSHA safety, compliance and training. Next the concern for other workers getting hurt, threat of large fines for not protecting and training them, lawsuits and increase workmans compensation rates compels the contractor to adopt safety protocol.  

What's wrong with this picture?

Do you think proactively adopting safety before the accident is better?

Of course you do. 


This picture; Seven people hurt in New Jersey Ladder Scaffold fall with no guard rails or fall protection systems.) 

I read somewhere that our people are our most valuable asset. If that were the case one would think that safety would be at the top of the priority list. Well looking into the residential construction industry's safety track record it will not take long to see for many, that that is not the case. The number one most cited on OSHA's top 10 list is failure to have provide protection for workers while working 6 feet or more above a lower level in construction. Residential contractors and sub trades lead the way in injuries, deaths and fines. 

Unfortunately my last three fall protection trainings were because of deaths or OSHA fines. Also I conducted 2 fall protection training classes last spring for companies who were fined and one last year after a fall death.

Conducting fall protection training after deaths is one of the most challenging aspects of my services. I have the ability to do them with compassion and empathy but I would rather do training before the owner has to face the reality of death or catastrophic injury of an employee. I assure you this is not a reality you want to experience.

One client said to me in a stuttering voice after he lost his employee "I am not sure I want to continue doing business."

All these companies told me they cared about their workers and I am sure they did and still do. However safety training and following OSHA standards wasn't on the priority list. Many residential contractors forgo OSHA training and compliance due to the fear that it will cost too much money and diminish productivity. A death, injury or fine has a way of changing their focus.

In a former post I mentioned that many states have laws that require OSHA 10 and 30 certification training for all workers on federal and state funded projects. There are no laws requiring the same for residential or commercial workers on non tax funded work. It is a well known reality that contractors will rarely volunteer to get training unless it is required and enforced.  

In order to prevent injuries, accidents and deaths the construction business owner should decide to adopt a robust attitude towards safety first. This is done by creating a safety program and manual and then training our workers before they are exposed to hazards. Training needs to be conducted often, reinforced, and we need to confirm that the training we give shows up in work behavior.

Residential construction is dangerous would you let your son or nephew work on your job site?

In my training I ask our contractor students if they would let their son, nephew or daughter work on their job sites given their safety conditions. The usual response is silence with a stare!


I share the story of the death of a 19 year old young man who was working for his uncle in Manchester, N. H. While walking around the frame, Tyler Walsh heard heads up, looked up and a steel bracket pieced his skull. 

Then I recommend that if it isn't safe for your son, nephew or daughter to work on the site then why would you let your employee(s)? 

No doubt this get to the core of the issue and compels our students to re-think their focus.

A compelling reason to be proactive on safety

If you are thinking that injuries or deaths will never happen to you or your guys ask a contractor who lost a worker from a fall on their residential job site. He will likely tell you he never thought it would happen either but it did.

New Year Resolution

Please consider safety as a top priority in 2016. Because you care and it is the right thing to do, train and protect your employees and require that all trades use fall protection when up on higher levels.

If you want help on how to get this done or started contact me.


Tags: osha fines, fall death, fall protection, training