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OSHA: Fall Hazards Paralyzed Worker

Thursday, January 14, 2016

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A New Jersey builder and Pennsylvania construction contractor received more than $100,000 in combined fines for a 30-year-old construction worker's paralyzing fall.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited High Quality Builders, of Bordentown, NJ, with eight serious and two repeat violations for the July 6, 2015, fall. For its alleged violations, the company received fines totaling $72,000.

In a separate list of citations, OSHA penalized the general contractor on the West Chester, PA, job site—TJ Ward Plumbing Heating & Commercial Services LLC, of Media, PA—with $24,500 in fines, the agency said in a Tuesday (Jan. 12) statement. OSHA said the general contractor allegedly had eight serious violations in the incident.

Roofer’s Fall

The fall occurred on the construction worker's first day on the job for High Quality Builders and immediately following the Fourth of July holiday, the agency noted. It said the man fell 40 feet onto the rubble below as a rough terrain forklift raised a makeshift platform three stories to the roof.

The worker was installing gutters on new apartment condominium buildings when the fall occurred, the agency said.

Photos: OSHA

OSHA cited two companies with safety violations that allegedly led to a 30-year-old worker's fall at a Pennsylvania job site. It was the first day of work for the man (not shown), who now is paralyzed.

The construction worker, whom the agency did not name, suffered serious and permanent injuries including being paralyzed from the waist down.

“This tragedy could have been averted if these two companies had not been so careless about worker safety,” said Nicholas DeJesse, director of OSHA’s Philadelphia Area Office.

“A young man is now confined to a wheelchair because of the disregard of the employers at this site for the safety and well-being of their workers. Their actions are inexcusable and will not be tolerated.”

List of Violations

OSHA also noted in its statement that the agency cited High Quality Builders for similar violations in March and June of 2015. A review of the agency’s inspection data showed that OSHA has inspected the company 17 times in the past five years. Some of those inspections also include penalties for fall violations.

In addition to citations for allegedly failing to provide fall protection, the agency said High Quality Builders has repeatedly misused front-end loaders and similar pieces of equipment to support scaffolding platforms.

The largest penalty—$30,800—was for failing to provide the fall protection. That was one of the two repeat violations, according to the citations that were issued Jan. 4. The other repeat violation was for failing to report the accident to the agency within 24 hours, for which the agency fined the subcontractor $11,000.

The subcontractor on the job received the highest penalties, one of which was a $30,800 fine for a repeat fall-related violation. All of the general contractor's fines were $4,900 apiece.

According to the agency’s inspection data, this is the first time OSHA has cited the general contractor. It’s alleged violations include not providing fall protection and the improper use of powered industrial trucks.

All of the general contractor’s penalties were $4,900 each, according to the citations that also were issued Jan. 4.

No Comment

Neither company appears to have a website. The Philadelphia Business Journal said Tuesday that TJ Ward Plumbing Heating & Commercial Services could not be reached a comment. High Quality Builders did not respond to requests seeking comment.

Each company has 15 days from the day it was issued its penalties to pay, request a conference or contest the violation, the agency said.


Tagged categories: Citations; Contractors; Fall protection; Government; Health and safety; OSHA; OSHA; Scaffolding

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