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Falls Kill, Critically Injure Painters

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

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Falls have left one California painter dead and one clinging to life a week apart, authorities say.

In one case, a self-employed house painter apparently over-reached while painting and fell from his ladder; in the other, a painter working on a commercial structure fell out of an aerial lift that was extended 60 feet.

Cal/OSHA Probe

The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) is investigating a fall at 8:50 a.m. Thursday (Dec. 6) that left a 70-year-old painter gravely injured in Santa Rosa, CA.

The accident occurred at a commercial building at the city's Airport Business Center. Minneapolis-based Medtronic, which leases another building in the complex, is moving into the 62,000-square-foot space, the North Bay Business Journal recently reported. The renovation is due to be completed in the spring.

Aerial Lift

About 26 people each year, including painters, are killed in accidents involving aerial lifts.

Cal/OSHA confirmed late Monday that the lift had collapsed or overturned. Fire officials did not respond to a request for information.

Ashtead Group plc based in Fort Mill, SC. Sunbelt is one of the largest equipment rental companies in the U.S.

Cal/OSHA has issued an Order Prohibiting Use (OPU) on the lift, said agency spokesman Greg Siggins.The lift cannot be used as long as it is yellow-tagged, he said.

Both Streamline Painting and Sunbelt Rentals are focuses of the Cal/OSHA investigation, Siggins said. Sunbelt did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

About 26 workers each year die from using aerial lifts, according to CPWR, the Center to Protect Workers' Rights. More than half of the deaths involve boom-supported lifts. Most of the workers killed are painters, electrical workers, laborers,  ironworkers, or carpenters.

It was not clear what kind of building the man was painting, but it appeared to be commercial structure near the Charles M. Shultz-Sonoma County Airport, reports said.

House Painter Killed

Meanwhile, a house painter in San Bernardino County, CA, perished Nov. 28 when he apparently overreached for a fascia board, lost his balance, and tumbled to the ground, authorities said.

Siggins said the victim, 58, had been working from a ladder positioned on top of a scaffold painting the exterior of a residence when the accident occurred at 7:53 a.m. Nov. 28.

Falls are leading cause of death among the construction industry

Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry.

Authorities had no immediate information on how far the man fell.

County officials could not provide identification or any additional details Monday (Dec. 10).

Siggins said Cal/OSHA had opened an investigation into the incident, but closed it almost immediately upon learning that the man was the company owner. Because the accident did not involve an employee, Cal/OSHA did not have jurisdiction, Siggins said.

Fatal Falls, New Directive

Fatalities from falls are the number-one cause of death in the construction industry, OSHA says.

Fall protection system

New federal fall-protection rules issued in December 2010 are finally set to take effect this week.

Residential contractors will soon be required to implement a 2010 federal directive on fall protection, as OSHA's "temporary enforcement measure" period for its Compliance Guidance for Residential Construction (STD 03-11-002) is set to expire Dec. 15.

The directive requires employers to provide roofers and construction workers with fall-protection equipment whenever work is performed six feet or higher above the ground.

The directive was issued two years ago, in December 2010, to replace policies issued in 1999. The directive was to have taken effect June 16, 2011.

A three-month phase-in period was then implemented June 16, 2011, through Sept. 15, 2011. That September, however, the agency began a period of "temporary enforcement" measures that was extended three times.

Those extensions are set to run out on Saturday (Dec. 15).

(Editor's Note: On Tuesday, the San Bernardino County Coroner's Office identified Cristobal Salvador Berrios, 58, of San Bernardino, as the deceased. The spokesperson said Berrios was pronounced dead at 5:32 p.m. on Nov. 27, not 7:53 a.m. on Nov. 28, as indicated by CAL/OSHA. The cause and manner of death are still pending.)


Tagged categories: Accidents; Fall protection; Fatalities; Health and safety; lift; OSHA; Painters; Regulations; Residential contractors

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