hospital emergency roomA call from the Moonachie, NJ Police Department last October alerted OSHA to a serious accident at a local worksite – caused by a hazard that the agency has focused considerable resources on reducing.

The police were calling to say that an employee of Ridgefield-based Conte Roofing Co. fell 20 feet through an opening in the roof of a commerical building and suffered a broken neck. Fortunately, the worker was not paralyzed in the incident but he is still recovering, according to OSHA.

OSHA’s subsequent investigation found a half dozen hazards at the worksite resulting in two repeat and four serious violations, including fall hazards.

Proposed penalties total $57,300.

The four serious violations involve failing to provide fall protection and training for workers performing roof work; ensure an available fire extinguisher; and protect holes in the roof.

The repeat violations are due to a ladder not extended 3 feet above the landing surface and a lack of ladder training. The same violations were cited in 2011.

In order to address this serious construction safety issue, OSHA has created a Stop Falls Web page at 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, such as guardrails, safety nets or personal fall arrest systems, be in use when workers perform construction activities at 6 feet or more above the next lower level.