Which Should Get the Larger Fine: Fall Hazards or Failing to Report Worker Death?

August 21, 2006

OSHA cited a Newark, N.J., roofing contractor for alleged fall hazards and for failing to report the death of a worker who suffered a fatal fall at a Flushing, NY worksite.

Employees of Jose Construction Corp. were working on a roof on March 27 when a worker fell 20 feet from a ladder. He died of his injuries on April 1. OSHA began its investigation on April 26, after learning of the fatality from a third party.

"Falls are one of the four leading causes of death in construction, and ladders are present at virtually every job site," said Richard Mendelson, OSHA's area director for Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn, N.Y. "It's imperative that ladders be properly erected and used. Employees should be trained in safe work practices to prevent deaths such as this one."

According to OSHA, the agency's inspection found that the 20-foot extension ladder workers used to access the roof did not extend 3 feet above the roof's edge, as required. The ladder allegedly lacked a grasping device to aid workers in safely mounting and dismounting.

In addition, the agency says, employees were carrying bags of tools while climbing the ladder, and they were not trained in how to properly set up and use the ladder.

Jose Construction Corp. was issued three serious citations with proposed fines of $4,500 for these conditions.

The company also was issued an other-than-serious citation with a $1,500 fine for not informing OSHA of the employee's death. An other-than-serious violation is a condition that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm, but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.

"Employers are required to notify OSHA of any occupational fatality within 8 hours of the employee's death," said Mendelson. "This is to ensure a prompt inspection and identification of any hazardous conditions. Failing to inform OSHA of a worker's death will not preclude an inspection and can prompt additional penalties."

OSHA Penalizes Gold Kist $143,000 for Exposing Workers to Serious Safety Hazards


OSHA has cited Gold Kist for allegedly exposing workers to serious and repeated safety hazards at its Russellville, Ala., poultry processing plant. The agency is proposing penalties totaling $143,000.

"Failing to comply with required safety procedures puts workers at unnecessary risk," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's area director in Birmingham, Ala. "When employers shirk their responsibility to keep workplaces free of hazards, the results can be tragic for workers and their families."

OSHA issued 21 serious safety citations with proposed penalties of $90,000. The citations were associated with blocked and improperly marked exits; unsafe floor conditions, inadequate personal protective equipment, insufficient machine guarding, and numerous other safety hazards. Serious citations are issued when there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazards.

The company also received two repeat violations with penalties totaling $50,000 for failure to keep conveyor belt work areas free from fall hazards and other unsafe conditions. Repeat violations occur when an employer has been cited previously for a substantially similar condition and the citation has become a final order of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

OSHA issued one other-than-serious citation and proposed a $3,000 penalty for not complying with required record-keeping procedures.

National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory Public Meeting


The NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) will conduct a public stakeholder meeting on October 12 and 13 at the Crowne Plaza Pittsburgh South, 164 Fort Couch Road, Pittsburgh (Bethel Park), Pennsylvania. The meeting will be held on October 12, from 8:30 am until 4:00 pm and on October 13 from 8:30 am until 11:30 am. Registration will be held from 8:00 am until 8:30 am on both days.

New programs for the approval of powered, air-purifying respirators (PAPRs), total inward leakage (TIL), the quality assurance (QA) module, and the administrative module will be discussed. In addition, current and future research projects for personal protective technology will be presented, and opportunity for discussion will follow the presentations.


For additional information, contact NPPTL Event Management, 3604 Collins Ferry Road, Suite 100, Morgantown, West Virginia 26505-2353, 304-225-5138,

OSHA Cites Plastering Contractor for Scaffolding Hazards


OSHA has cited S & J Plastering Inc., Miami, Fla., for allegedly exposing workers to repeated and serious scaffolding safety hazards. The agency is proposing penalties totaling $135,000.

"This inspection was initiated under our special-emphasis program on fall protection," said Luis R. Santiago, OSHA's area director in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "It's our goal to assure that contractors follow required procedures and provide safe scaffolding for workers."

OSHA issued three repeat citations with proposed penalties totaling $120,000. The citations were issued because working levels of scaffolds were not fully planked, too much space was left between planks, platforms were not the required width, safe access was not provided, and guardrails or other fall protection was not furnished for workers.

The company also received five serious citations and proposed penalties of $15,000. These were issued for failing to provide required support for scaffold planks of certain lengths, failing to provide mud sills and base plates for scaffold legs, not training workers properly, and failing to protect workers from additional hazards.

New Safety and Health Bulletins Focus on Guardrail Systems, All-Terrain Vehicles


OSHA published two new safety and health information bulletins this month to highlight specific workplace hazards.   The bulletin identifies specific work practices for employers and employees to address hazards and prevent accidents.

Latest OSHA QuickCard Highlights Safe Driving Practices


Employees who use motor vehicles for work stand to benefit from a new QuickCard available on OSHA's Web site.


 Alliance Generates New Occupational Safety and Health Web Site


 The page on ISSA's website features links to safety and health topics pages focusing on bloodborne pathogens, hazard communication, recordkeeping, personal protective equipment, and slips, trips and falls. Each page provides information on applicable standards, common hazards and solutions to those hazards, and compliance assistance materials.

OSHA Fines Pevely Company for Bridge Death


A bridge painting company from Pevely, Mo., has been fined more than $60,000 in the death of a worker who fell from the Jefferson Barracks Bridge.

OSHA fined Thomas Industrial Coatings and issued the company three citations. The citations are related to the death of Jimmy Belfield, 39, who fell into the Mississippi River while trying to rescue three co-workers. Those co-workers were later rescued; they had fallen after a flooring gave way while they painted the span.

OSHA says the company could face more citations and fines connected to two other fatal bridge falls in Kansas City.

Entergy Arkansas in Harrison Achieves OSHA "Star" for Workplace Safety and Health


Entergy Arkansas, Harrison Service Center, in Harrison, Ark., has earned membership in the OSHA’s "Star" Voluntary Protection Program (VPP).

"The company has maintained an injury and illness rate that is 45 percent below the national average for its industry, demonstrating excellence in effective safety and health management," said OSHA Regional Administrator Frank Strasheim in Dallas. "Entergy's outstanding effort exemplifies the value of working with OSHA to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses."

Entergy Arkansas, Harrison Service Center, owned by Entergy Corp., installs, repairs and maintains electrical-distribution services. The Harrison facility employs about 32 workers. The corporate headquarters is in Little Rock, Ark.

The VPP recognizes and promotes effective workplace safety and health management. About 1,400 workplaces throughout the U.S., representing 280 industries, have earned OSHA's highest recognition as participants in the program. Participants typically achieve injury and illness rates lower than average rates for their respective industry.

OSHA Certifies the New York State Plan for Public Employees


OSHA announced that it will approve plan amendments and certify the state of New York's occupational safety and health plan for its public employees. This certification reflects OSHA's determination that all developmental commitments have been met and that the state's plan is structurally complete.

"This is a major milestone for the state of New York in the development of its occupational safety and health program," said Edwin G. Foulke Jr., assistant secretary of labor for OSHA. "We congratulate them on this accomplishment and for their ongoing commitment to the safety and health of their public employees."

OSHA's certification indicates that the state plan contains all the necessary structural elements (standards, statutory and regulatory authorities, and procedures) to operate a program for its public employees which is "at least as effective" as the federal program. Absent a state plan, state and local government employees are not covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

New York's state plan is administered by the New York Department of Labor, Division of Occupational Safety and Health, Public Employee Safety and Health (PESH) program and covers nearly 1.3 million state and local government employees.

OSHA encourages states to develop and operate their own safety and health programs. While most state plans cover both private sector and public sector employees, New York is one of four jurisdictions that cover only public sector employees; the others are Connecticut, New Jersey and the Virgin Islands. Private sector enforcement authority in the state of New York remains the responsibility of federal OSHA.


Chemical Safety Board Commends Kentucky Office of Housing, Buildings, and Construction following Investigation of Fatal 2003 Explosion


The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) formally commended the Kentucky Office of Housing, Buildings, and Construction (HBC) for exceeding the recommended action from the board's investigation of the fatal 2003 dust explosion at CTA Acoustics in Corbin, Kentucky.

During the investigation, the CSB found that the Kentucky state fire marshal's office, which is part of the HBC, did not regularly inspect industrial facilities for fire safety and had not inspected the CTA facility since it was constructed in 1972. On February 15, 2005, the board voted at a public meeting in London, Kentucky, to recommend that the HBC “identify sites that handle combustible dusts when facilities apply for new or modified construction permits, and use this information to help prioritize establishments that will be inspected by the fire marshal.”

The HBC fulfilled the recommendation by modifying its building code review process to identify all new or modified facilities that can generate large quantities of combustible dust and adding those facilities to the state fire marshal's annual inspection list.

The HBC also went above and beyond the CSB safety recommendation by:

  1. Generating a list of existing facilities at risk for combustible dust explosions
  2. Successfully seeking additional funding from the Kentucky state legislature to hire more inspectors
  3. Prioritizing its 2006 inspection schedule to concentrate on facilities with combustible dust hazards
  4. Actively working with inspected facilities to generate cleaning plans

On the basis of these additional actions, which will reduce future dust explosion risks, the board voted to designate the recommendation as “closed - exceeds recommended action.”

The explosion on February 20, 2003, at CTA Acoustics killed seven workers, injured 37 others, and essentially destroyed the facility which produced automotive insulation. The board's investigation found that the facility lacked effective firewalls and blast-resistant construction designs and had extensive accumulations of combustible phenolic resin powder, which fueled the explosion.

The incident was one of three fatal combustible dust explosions that occurred in 2003 and were investigated by the CSB. In 2004, the board began a national study of combustible dust hazards, which has so far identified 281 industrial dust explosions in the U.S. over a 25-year period; those incidents resulted in a total of 119 deaths and 718 injuries.

CSB Chairman Carolyn W. Merritt said, “The Kentucky state government has demonstrated a strong commitment to making industrial facilities safer from deadly dust explosions. The new program is helping to identify workplaces at risk and promote changes. The Kentucky program is a model for other states to study and follow. Kentucky's actions will help prevent future tragedies like the one that claimed seven workers' lives in 2003.”

The board votes to assign a status to each of its safety recommendations based on a staff analysis of documents and other information provided by recipients. The board may designate a recipient's actions as 'acceptable' or 'unacceptable' based on whether the actions meet the intention of the board's safety recommendation. The 'exceeds recommended action' designation has been used only six times among the 178 formal safety recommendations that the board has voted to close since 1998.

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