Contractor Cited Following Fatalities at Florida Job Site

January 31, 2005

A Florida contractor received an OSHA citation following an investigation into a building collapse at a Hobe Sound construction site on July 22, 2004. Two construction workers were killed in the collapse, and several others seriously injured. The agency has proposed a total of $79,200 in penalties against the company.

Macs Construction & Concrete Inc. received one willful citation with proposed penalties of $56,000 for failing to erect formwork for the concrete walls that was capable of supporting anticipated loads. The agency issues a willful citation when a company has shown intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

The company also received two serious citations for deficiencies related to the shoring of the formwork, with proposed penalties totaling $11,200. The agency issued two repeat citations unrelated to the fatal accident, with proposed penalties totaling $12,000 for exposing workers to falls through unguarded floor openings and from areas over six-feet high that required guardrails.

Georgia Company Cited for Fall Protection Following Warehouse Fatality

Diversified Ag Services Inc. had been cited for exposing workers to fall hazards at the company's bulk fertilizer warehouse in Albany, GA. OSHA has proposed penalties totaling $51,250.

The agency began an investigation in August after being notified that a worker had died from injuries sustained in a fall from an elevated forklift platform. According to the OSHA investigative report, the employee was struck by a piece of electrical conduit as it was being removed from overhead beams, causing him to lose his balance and fall 8 feet to the floor below.

The company received one willful citation for failing to provide standard guardrails on the pallet or fall arrest equipment for the employee. The citation carries a proposed penalty of $49,000. A "safety cage" equipped with standard guardrails was available in the warehouse, according to OSHA. OSHA issues a willful citation when an employer has shown an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

OSHA also issued two serious citations unrelated to the fatal accident for failing to have a "lockout-tagout" program that would prevent workers from being caught in or struck by energized equipment during repair or maintenance, and for operating a forklift with a defective safety signal. The serious citations have total proposed penalties of $2,250.

Fall-related fatalities increased last year in the Southeast. Companies are encouraged to contact OSHA for information about its fall protection program to reduce these needless deaths. The program is separate and distinct from the agency's enforcement efforts.

OSHA Requirements for Protecting Workers from Fire Hazards

Employers must train workers about fire hazards in the workplace and about what to do in a fire emergency. If you want your workers to evacuate, you must train them on how to escape. If you expect your workers to use firefighting equipment, you should give them appropriate equipment and train them to use the equipment safely. 

What does OSHA require for emergency fire exits?

Every workplace must have enough exits suitably located to enable everyone to get out of the facility quickly. Considerations include the type of structure, the number of persons exposed, the fire protection available, the type of industry involved, and the height and type of construction of the building or structure. In addition, fire doors must not be blocked or locked when employees are inside. Delayed opening of fire doors, however, is permitted when an approved alarm system is integrated into the fire door design. Exit routes from buildings must be free of obstructions and properly marked with exit signs. 

Do employers have to provide portable fire extinguishers?

No. But if you do, you must establish an educational program to familiarize your workers with the general principles of fire extinguisher use. If you expect your workers to use portable fire extinguishers, you must provide hands-on training in using this equipment. For details, see 29 CFR 1910 Subpart L.

Must employers develop emergency action plans?

Not every employer is required to have an emergency action plan. OSHA standards that require emergency action plans include the following:

  • Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals,
  • Fixed Extinguishing Systems, General, 
  • Fire Detection Systems, 
  • Grain Handling,
  • Ethylene Oxide,
  • Methylenedianiline, 
  • 1,3 Butadiene,

When required, you must develop emergency action plans that:

  • Describe the routes for workers to use and procedures to follow.
  • Account for all evacuated employees.
  • Remain available for employee review.
  • Include procedures for evacuating disabled employees.
  • Address evacuation of employees who stay behind to shut down critical plant equipment.
  • Include preferred means of alerting employees to a fire emergency.
  • Provide for an employee alarm system throughout the workplace.
  • Require an alarm system that includes voice communication or sound signals such as bells, whistles, or horns.
  • Make the evacuation signal known to employees.
  • Ensure emergency training.
  • Require employer review of the plan with new employees and with all employees whenever the plan is changed

Must employers have a fire prevention plan?

OSHA standards that require fire prevention plans include the following:

  • Ethylene Oxide, 
  • Methylenedianiline,
  • 1,3 Butadiene, 

Employers covered by these standards must implement plans to minimize the frequency of evacuations. All fire prevention plans must:

  • Be available for employee review.
  • Include housekeeping procedures for storage and cleanup of flammable materials and flammable waste.
  • Address handling and packaging of flammable waste. (Recycling of flammable waste such as paper is encouraged.)
  • Cover procedures for controlling workplace ignition sources such as smoking, welding, and burning.
  • Provide for proper cleaning and maintenance of heat producing equipment such as burners, heat exchangers, boilers, ovens, stoves, and fryers and require storage of flammables away from this equipment.
  • Inform workers of the potential fire hazards of their jobs and plan procedures.
  • Require plan review with all new employees and with all employees whenever the plan is changed.

What are the rules for fixed extinguishing systems?

Fixed extinguishing systems throughout the workplace are among the most reliable fire fighting tools. These systems detect fires, sound an alarm, and send water to the fire and heat. To meet OSHA standards employers who have these systems must:

  • Substitute (temporarily) a fire watch of trained employees to respond to fire emergencies when a fire suppression system is out of service.
  • Ensure that the watch is included in the fire prevention plan and the emergency action plan.
  • Post signs for systems that use agents (e.g., carbon dioxide, Halon 1211, etc.) posing a serious health hazard.

How can you get more information on safety and health?