40 foot fall hazards at Mass. renovation project
Employers face more than $110K in fines for failing to provide fall protection
Workers doing renovation at the former Dye Works in Easthampton faced potentially fatal falls of up to 40 feet because their employers failed to provide proper protection, OSHA has found. Agency inspectors visited the work site on July 11, 2014, in response to a complaint about fall hazards there.
In all, four contractors were cited and fined $110,670 by OSHA. The project's general contractor, James J. Welch & Co. Inc., of Salem, was cited for the majority of the violations, with $93,170 in proposed fines.
All about falls
OSHA found several fall hazards; no fall protection for employees working on the roof; unguarded floor holes; insufficient anchorage for fall protection; and employees untrained to recognize fall hazards.
- Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning contractor Atlantis Comfort Systems Corp., of Smithfield, Rhode Island, was cited for two serious violations, with $7,000 in fines, for failure to ensure the use of fall protection and failure to document fall protection training.
- Masonry subcontractor Jean Beauthier, doing business as All Custom Masonry, of Rutland, was cited for two serious violations, with $5,600 in fines, for failure to provide fall protection for employees working on a scaffold and for using a scaffold that was not fully planked.
- Finally, window contractor J&R Glass Service, of Fitchburg, was cited for one serious violation, with a fine of $4,900, for not protecting an employee from possible falls through a wall opening.
Inspectors knew the way
This is not the first time OSHA investigated this work site for safety violations. In July 2014, OSHA cited Connecticut-based abrasive blasting contractor Maher Industries, doing business as A Fast Blast, for lead, silica and respirator violations and proposed $47,600 in fines. The company is currently contesting its citations and fines.
Falls are the leading cause of death in construction work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that seven workers died in construction-related falls in Massachusetts in 2012. To raise awareness of fall hazards and safeguards among workers, employers and the public, OSHA has created a Stop Falls Web page with detailed information in English and Spanish on fall protection standards. The page offers fact sheets, posters and videos that vividly illustrate various fall hazards and appropriate preventive measures.