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OSHA Targets Four Firms after Fall

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

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Four contractors face fines after a 33-year-old worker fell 11 feet to his death through an unprotected stairway opening at a housing complex under construction in Florida, according to authorities.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited general contractor Capri Construction Corp., and three subcontractors, Southern Chills Inc., SB Painting & Waterproofing Inc. and Brothers Carpentry Corp., for a total of eight alleged safety violations.

FL Housing
© iStock.com / ntzolov

Employers are required to provide residential roofers and construction workers with fall-protection equipment whenever work is performed six feet or higher above the ground. The photo does not depict the housing complex in this case.

Combined, the contractors face $91,536 in proposed penalties, OSHA announced.

Fatal Fall

The death of Leonardo Javier Lopez-Montelo prompted the federal inspection as well as a follow-up inspection.

Lopez-Montelo, an employee of Southern Chills, of Homestead, had been performing punch-list activities June 29, 2016, at the Kendall Square Housing complex in Miami when he suffered a fatal fall.

Condell Eastmond, OSHA's area director in Fort Lauderdale called the death “preventable,” noting that the employer and the general contractor “failed in their responsibility to protect their employees and chose to ignore the need to install the necessary fall protection system which would have saved Leonardo.”

Federal workplace safety inspectors said that the stairway opening had no guardrails or cover as required and that the companies had been aware that the opening was unprotected.

Repeat, Serious Citations

Capri Construction Corp., of Miami, had contracted with Southern Chills to perform carpentry work such as installing second floor deck, trusses and sheathing at the housing complex being developed by Lennar Homes. The general contractor could not be reached for comment Tuesday (Jan. 3).

Capri Construction was cited for alleged serious hazards, carrying $17,459 in fines, following the fall. OSHA alleged that the company failed ensure that the jobsite, materials and equipment were subject to regular inspections by competent parties and it failed to protect workers from fall hazards.

OSHA poster
OSHA

OSHA's "Stop Falls" campaign takes aim at the construction industry's No. 1 killer.

OSHA issued Southern Chills two repeat citations for allegedly failing to protect workers from falls up to 11 feet with a guardrail or personal fall system and not training employees to recognize fall hazards or procedures while working at elevated levels.

Southern Chills had been cited for similar hazards in January 2016. Proposed penalties against Southern Chills totaled $46,641.

More Hazards Spotted

Following the fatality, Capri Construction contracted with Brothers Carpentry, a West Park finish carpentry contractor, to replace Southern Chills and the developer hired SB Painting, of West Palm Beach, to paint the exteriors and interiors of the homes. On July 19, 2016, OSHA found workers exposed to further fall hazards.

Brothers Carpentry was fined $9,976 for allegedly exposing workers to fall hazards while installing plywood and truss jackets on the residential units, according to the citation document.

Further, OSHA cited SB Painting & Waterproofing Inc. for allegedly exposing an employee to a fall hazard while standing above a first floor overhang painting the townhouse fascia. The employer was also cited for failing to train employees to recognize fall hazards. Both hazards, classified as serious, resulted in $17,460 in proposed fines.

For construction industry workers, falls are the leading cause of work-related death. Four in 10 workers die in preventable falls each year, OSHA said.

The companies have 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

   

Tagged categories: Access; Accidents; Citations; Contractors; Fall protection; Fatalities; Health and safety; Housing; Painting Contractors; Waterproofing

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