The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed a $51,000 fine of a Connecticut construction company following an investigation of the death of a worker who was installing metal roofing on a building in Stamford, Conn.
OSHA cited American Building LLC, a Trumbull, Conn.-based steel erection contractor, for alleged violations—one willful and one serious—of workplace safety standards following the Oct. 25, 2011, death of the worker.
News reports identified the employee as Javier Salinas, 36, of Danbury, Conn.
OSHA said American Building employees were installing metal roofing onto a prefabricated steel building at the former Clairol campus in Stamford when the worker fell 35 feet to the ground and sustained fatal injuries.
An investigation by OSHA's Bridgeport Area Office found that employees lacked proper fall protection and were not adequately trained to recognize and avoid fall hazards. The safety harnesses of three of the four employees working on the roof, including the victim, were not tied off to anchorage points to prevent falls, and the fourth employee’s safety lanyard was too long to protect him against a fall, OSHA said.
As a result of its inspection, OSHA has cited American Building with one willful violation for the lack of fall protection and one serious violation for the lack of training. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
“Inadequate and ineffective fall protection can be as dangerous and deadly as no fall protection at all,” said Robert Kowalski, OSHA’s area director in Bridgeport. “This employer was well aware that these workers were exposed to falls but did not take steps to eliminate a significant hazard. A combination of proper fall protection and effective training could have prevented this needless loss of life.”
American Building has15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
A news report at ctpost.com said American Building Group in 1999 was cited by OSHA for six serious violations for scaffolding issues, electrical problems and a lack of safety equipment; the issue was settled for half of the original $5,400 fine. The company was fined another $7,500 by OSHA in 2005 and $20,000 in 2006, the news report said.
The news story also reported that the company’s owner faces criminal charges filed by the state department of labor for failing to pay back wages to Salinas and his two brothers, who also were working on the project where Salinas fell.
In December, Salinas' wife and brothers sued American Building in a wrongful death complaint that also targeted the owner and developer of the Chelsea Piers site in Stamford, where the fatal accident occurred.