As stated in a November 3 news release, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently cited a construction company that failed to institute proper fall prevention measures. In this case, the incident occurred at a Glen Cove, New York, worksite on April 14th, 2023. Subsequently, a federal workplace safety investigation under OSHA found that a Huntington contractor could have prevented the roofer’s fatal fall. Fall hazards are one of the most common workplace hazards and can be present on any walking/working surface. In fact, any surface four feet or more above a lower level poses a greater risk of a fall. It is critically important that all employers implement legally required safeguards designed to prevent falls. According to OSHA, including comprehensive fall prevention measures is critical in the workplace. To prevent injuries and deaths, in May 2023, OSHA launched a National Emphasis Program to prevent falls.
The Incident and Investigation
As has been noted, OSHA investigated the incident. Overall, the findings revealed that the deceased worker and other employees were installing metal decking on a flat industrial roof. Consequently, the worker fell through an opening to a concrete floor nearly 20 feet below, resulting in a fatal outcome.
According to OSHA, the issue is that the company failed to provide its employees with essential protection against fall hazards. These protections are legally required, including guardrails, safety nets, personal fall arrest systems, positioning devices, or fall restraint systems. In this case, the absence of fall prevention resources had devastating consequences.
As a result of the investigation, OSHA issued six willful violations for the fall hazards. Chiefly, the agency noted a severe disregard for worker safety and assigned one violation for each exposed worker. In addition, the company received one serious violation for failing to train its workers adequately. Undeniably, the penalties for these violations ended up being substantial, with a proposed total of $522,527.
In conclusion, this unfortunate incident is a stark reminder of the importance of prioritizing fall prevention measures in any workplace that exposes employees to potential hazards. Implementing safeguards and training not only ensures regulatory compliance but, more importantly, protects the lives and well-being of employees.