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OSHA: Fatal Fall ‘Entirely Preventable’

Friday, May 9, 2014

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Federal authorities are holding a New York general contractor liable for the death of a young worker who was blown off the roof of a car dealership while working.

Kyle M. Brown, 23, of Turin, NY, was wearing a "useless" fall protection harness that was unconnected to an independent anchorage point when he was swept from the roof Nov. 18, 2013, and fell 24 feet to his death, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined.

Kyle M. Brown
Provided via

Kyle M. Brown was working his first construction job when he died. OSHA said his unanchored fall protection harness was "useless."

Brown was part of a crew that had been installing metal decking on the roof at the dealership, which was under construction in Pulaski, NY, about 35 miles north of Syracuse, authorities said. The gusts swept off both Brown and a sheet of roofing he was trying to secure.

Gusts of more than 40 mph were reported in the area that day.

New on the Job

According to his obituary, MTL was Brown's first construction job, and he had been with the company just four months. He is survived by a twin sister and his parents.

OSHA has issued citations for one willful and three serious violations against Brown's employer, Watertown-based MTL Design Inc., alleging that the general contractor showed "plain indifference" to Brown's safety by failing to train him in fall protection and failing to require that he tie in while on the roof.

The company was also cited for failure to secure the decking against displacement by the wind.

A willful violation is OSHA's highest level of infraction; serious violations reflect life-threatening hazards.

The violations carry fines totaling $88,900.

MTL Design
MTL Design Inc.

According to its website, MTL Design specializes in commercial, low-rise metal buildings—the same kind of project in which Kyle Brown was killed.

"This needless fall and resulting death were entirely preventable," said Christopher Adams, OSHA's area director in Syracuse. "Had this company provided its employees with required fall protection equipment, anchorage and training, this young man would be alive today."

MTL Designs did not respond Thursday (May 8) to a request for comment. According to its Better Business Bureau profile, the company was established in 2004. A check of OSHA records Thursday showed no inspections of the company.

Stopping Falls

New York's construction industry recorded 22 fatal falls in 2012, the last year for which data are available, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, and fall-protection violations often lead the 10 most common OSHA violations.

To raise awareness of fall hazards and safeguards, a National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction will be conducted from June 2 to 6. This is a voluntary event where employers talk to their employees about fall hazards and reinforce the importance of fall prevention.

Participating employers stop work and provide a focused toolbox talk on a safety topic, such as ladder safety, fall protection equipment or scaffold safety. Details and resources are available here.

Editor's Note: This article was revised at 3:52 p.m. ET May 9, 2014, to correct the year of the BLS data and to provide citation documentation from OSHA.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Commercial Construction; Enforcement; Fall protection; Fatalities; Good Technical Practice; OSHA; Roofing contractors

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