Friday, June 27, 2008

Lack of Fall Protection Fatal to 19-year-old Worker

The attached article from Western Michigan Business Review, by Jake La Duke, indicates that improper provisions were made to assure that workers were not properly protected from falling through holes on this job site. They were not in compliance with OSHA Standard 1926.501(b)(4) "

The value of the life of this young worker was placed at $40,000, according to the fine levied by the young man's company and
MI OSHA. Is this enough to pay for a Willful violation? This just doesn't make Horse Sense to me.

I have seen Donkey Type situations like the one that caused this type fall or a "Near Miss" situation. Fortunately, none of these have caused a fatality. In many cases, Hole Covers are no more than a small piece of plywood laid loosely over a hole. Also, many cases of unprotected "leading edge" situations while workers are placing floor and/or roof decking. In one particular case, I was hired to replace a safety person after a worker "rode down" a loose sheet of decking.

Folks, this type situation is totally unaccepted work practices.

Contractors fined for fatality

by By Jake La Duke | Business Review Western
Wednesday June 25, 2008, 4:09 PM

Three western Michigan contractors were among five fined by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration after a fatal accident at a Detroit construction site in March.

The contractors were fined more than $40,000 for safety violations that resulted in the death of 19-year-old construction worker Scott Austin, who fell 60 feet at the Studio One Apartment building in downtown Detroit.

Houseman Construction of Grand Rapids was fined $11,000; Probuild of Delton $6,000; RJO Mechanical & Residential Plumbing of Portage $6,000; TNT Excavating of Howell $10,950; and Assemblers Inc. of Pinckney $6,100. The contractors have 15 working days to pay or appeal the fines.

Austin worked for TNT Excavating for less than one week when he fell through unsecured roof covers that were covering holes in the top of the building.

Bob Pawlowski, director of MIOSHA's division of construction safety and health, said falls are the leading cause of construction fatalities. In 2007, five of the 11 total construction deaths were caused by falls. In 2006, it was nine out of 26.

Pawlowski said the five companies were cited because they knew that the holes in the roof were present, but failed to either put up barricades or to secure the hole covers adequately.

"We believe everybody knew," he told the Ann Arbor Business Review. "Each employer is required to provide what is necessary to protect their employees."

Other violations in the incident included a lack of training, lack of an accident prevention program and inadequate inspections for hazards.

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