Today's News / Compliance / Safety in the Construction Industry

Young worker blown off roof by wind gust, falls to death

Following the death of 23-year-old construction worker Kyle Brown, OSHA found that his employer, Watertown, NY-based general construction contractor MTL Design Inc., failed to provide and ensure the use of fall protection safeguards that would have prevented his death. OSHA cited the company for a willful and a serious violation.

An easy hazard to identify

"This needless fall and resulting death were entirely preventable. Had this company provided its employees with required fall protection equipment, anchorage and training, this young man would be alive today," said Christopher Adams, OSHA's area director in Syracuse. "Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, yet they are also among the clearest hazards to identify and eliminate. Fall protection safeguards save lives, but only if they're properly and effectively implemented."

OSHA's investigation found that while Brown was wearing a fall protection harness, it was useless, as the workers were not provided with a means to connect to an independent anchorage point to stop a fall.

The fatality occurred on Nov. 18, 2013, when Brown was part of a crew installing metal decking atop the roof of an automobile dealership under construction in Pulaski. As Brown attempted to secure sheets of decking, he was blown off the roof by a wind gust and fell 24 feet to his death.

OSHA's investigation found that while Brown was wearing a fall protection harness, it was useless, as the workers were not provided with a means to connect to an independent anchorage point to stop a fall. The company failed to train employees to recognize fall hazards, ensure adequate anchorage for lifelines and secure the decking against displacement by the wind.

The numbers

Brown's death was one of 22 fatal falls in New York's construction industry in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Failing to provide fall protection for workers is one of the 10 most frequently cited OSHA violations.

To raise awareness of fall hazards and safeguards, a National Safety Stand-Down to prevent falls in construction will be conducted from June 2-6. This is a voluntary event where employers talk to their employees about fall hazards and reinforce the importance of fall prevention. Participating employers stop work and provide a focused toolbox talk on a safety topic, such as ladder safety, fall protection equipment or scaffold safety. Detailed information on the stand-down is available at http://go.usa.gov/kuP4.

Why a stand-down?

"The stand-down is part of OSHA's ongoing fall prevention campaign aimed at educating workers, employers and the public about the need for employers to operate in a safe work environment, provide their employees with proper and effective fall protection equipment and train their employees to recognize fall hazards and use equipment safely," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

Because of its investigation, OSHA issued MTL Design one willful citation for the lack of fall protection. Three serious citations were issued for the remaining hazards.

MTL Design, which faces $88,900 in proposed fines for its violations, is a general contractor that specializes in site work, concrete work and steel building construction.

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