Construction falls lead OSHA’s top safety violations for 2017

Kim Slowey
Sep 27, 2017

Dive Brief:

  • Fall protection in the construction industry, specifically, led the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s annual list of the most commonly cited workplace safety violations, according to a preliminary ranking reported by the National Safety Council.
  • Four violations on this year’s list are specific to OSHA’s Part 1926 – Safety and Health Regulations for Construction), including inadequate fall protection, lack of guardrails for scaffolding, improper use of ladders and lack of fall-protection training, according to Business and Legal Resources.
  • The list is preliminary and the final version is due out in December, though it is not expected to change in the meantime. The category of Fall Protection – Training Requirements is new to OSHA’s top 10 this year.

Dive Insight:

Fall protection has been of particular concern to OSHA as falls remain the leading cause of accidental death on construction sites. Of the 937 job site deaths reported in 2015, 350 were fall-related.

In an effort to increase job-site safety, OSHA has taken to levying significant fines in the case of certain violations, such as repeat offenses. In August, OSHA fined a Florida roofing contractor more than $1.5 million after repeated fall-protection violations. To reinforce the citation’s severity, the agency also added the company to its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, under which it will be subject to extra monitoring and inspections.

Trench safety is another OSHA concern. Last month, the agency fined South Dakota contractor First Dakota Enterprises $95,000 for conditions that led to a non-fatal collapse. The worker, who was covered by debris as a result of the collapse, survived, but OSHA said the company did not provide the proper protection systems and inspections that could have prevented such an incident.

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Contractor fined $189K for OR bridge safety violations

Kim Slowey
June 21, 2017

Dive Brief:

  • The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fined a Minnesota contractor $189,000 and issued the company nine safety violations related to worker injuries on a Portland, OR, bridge project, according to KGW.com.
  • Oregon OSHA said contractor Abhe & Svoboda did not provide adequate fall protection for workers prior to an incident in which a worker fell 37 feet from the bridge and landed on another individual, injuring them both.
  • Company officials allegedly tried to justify their lack of compliance with Oregon’s safety rules by arguing that the rules change too often. The agency cited the company with two willful and seven serious violations.

Dive Insight:

While construction work in general is inherently dangerous, bridge work can be especially risky, as many employees are consistently working at elevated heights. In November, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation charged contractor Joseph B. Fay Co. $3.3 million for damages related to a fire that erupted on the Liberty Bridge in Pittsburgh while Fay was working there.

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Trump signs bill that kills Obama-era Worker Safety Rule

By Kimberly Kindy
March 27 at 8:01 PM

President Trump signed a bill Monday that killed an Obama-era worker safety rule that required businesses competing for large federal contracts to disclose and correct serious safety and other labor law violations.

Earlier this month, the Senate voted to eliminate the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule, which applied to contracts valued at $500,000 or more. Votes on the bill in both the House and Senate divided along party lines.

The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces regulation was finalized in August but most of it was never implemented. Within days of it being finalized, the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) sued, securing a temporary injunction that prohibited the federal government from implementing it.

In a last-minute effort to fight for the rule earlier this month, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) released a staff report that showed 66 of the federal government’s 100 largest contractors have at some point violated federal wage and hour laws. Since 2015, the report says, more than a third of the 100 largest OSHA penalties have been imposed on federal contractors.

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City will soon be able to revoke permits at unsafe work sites

By Meghan E. Irons GLOBE STAFF
DECEMBER 16, 2016

City officials will soon have the authority to deny, revoke, or suspend a permit for any contractor with a poor record of ensuring their workers’ safety.

The City Council approved the safety measure this week, sending a strong message to anyone pulling permits after two construction workers died in October when a water line burst under a South End street, flooding the trench and thwarting attempts to save the men.

The employees – Robert Higgins and Kelvin Mattocks – worked for Atlantic Drain Services, a Roslindale company that was found to have a long and troubling history of violations, including citations for workers lacking oxygen underground and for conditions that could lead to cave-ins, federal records show.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh, who filed the ordinance proposal in November, aimed to hold individuals and companies accountable and sought better protection for workers by giving the city the power to intervene on their behalf.

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