Falls, broken bones, and death.
These were the hazards faced by Force Corp. employees as they performed a roofing job on July 7, 2015, at 2-4 Johnson St. in North Andover. An OSHA inspector driving by the work site saw three employees on a roof exposed to falls of up to 18 feet without fall protection.
Following the inspection, OSHA cited the Woburn-based roofing contractor for one willful violation for the lack of fall protection and four serious violations for other hazards. Force Corp. faces $91,000 in proposed fines.
The willful citation stems from the company's knowledge of the fall hazard. Since December 2013, OSHA has cited Force Corp. for fall-related hazards at work sites in Bridgeport and Hartford, Connecticut, and in Everett and Needham.
"This was an imminent danger situation. These employees were one slip, trip or misstep away from a deadly or disabling fall. We began an inspection immediately," said Anthony Covello, OSHA's area director for Middlesex and Essex counties. "Even after the employees donned fall protection equipment, it was defective and inadequate at preventing falls. Force Corp.'s disregard of this safety requirement placed its employees at risk needlessly. This is unacceptable behavior that must change before a worker's life or career is destroyed."
OSHA also found employees using ladders that did not extend at least 3 feet above upper landings for required stability; damaged and uninspected safety harnesses; and a safety lanyard that was too long to prevent employees from falling. The workers were also exposed to an electric shock hazard from a power tap not designed for a construction site.
OSHA has a Stop Falls online resource 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. OSHA standards require that an effective form of fall protection be in use when workers perform construction activities 6 feet or more above the next lower level.
The agency's ongoing Fall Prevention Campaign, which began in 2012, was developed in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and NIOSH's National Occupational Research Agenda program. The campaign provides employers with lifesaving information and educational materials on how to prevent falls, provide the right equipment for workers and train employees to use that gear properly.