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Close, But No Fall Protection, OSHA Finds

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

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The workers wore harnesses, and the roof was equipped with ropes and anchors, but no one bothered to connect the two—an inexplicable lapse that will cost a Louisiana-based contractor six figures, federal authorities say.

Overall, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ended up citing Jasper Contractors—once again—for six safety violations, including willful violations, at two residential sites in Jacksonville, FL.

The case is the seventh against Jasper Contractors in four years, according to OSHA records.

Residential Roofing
©iStock / LesPalenik

Fall-protection violations have been the leading source of OSHA citations three years in a row.

The multistate contractor, which specializes in residential, commercial and metal roofing, has been inspected by OSHA 12 times since 2009 and has been cited for similar violations year after year. The company, founded in 2004, was also cited on multiple occasions prior to 2009.

The citations stem from inspections in Florida, Nebraska, Colorado, Kentucky and Louisiana; inspections also were conducted in Indiana. The company has about 74 employees nationwide.

Five of the cases filed since 2009 have been closed, most with reductions in fines.

Another Jacksonville case from March 2014 remains open, however, with a payment plan in place for the $37,800 fine.

Citations

The new citations (available here and here) allege that employees at both sites were working without fall protection—a violation for which the company was already cited once this year, once in 2013, twice in 2012, and once each in 2011, 2010 and 2009.

This time, the violations (one for each work site) were deemed willful, OSHA's highest (and most expensive) level of infraction. Each willful violation carries a $70,000 fine.

Other citations allege:

  • Lack of eye and face protective equipment (a repeat citation for which the company had been cited twice before) amid the flying debris and nails of roofing work;
  • Misuse of ladders;
  • Lack of head protection for employees who were cleaning debris thrown from the roof; and
  • Lack of first-aid equipment.
Residential Roofing
NAHB

Home builders and trade contractors have been required since March 2013 to comply fully with OSHA's Compliance Guidance for Residential Construction.

Jasper Contractors was not available for comment late Tuesday (Sept. 30).

Fall Protection Crackdown

Falls are the leading cause of death in construction, and fall-protection violations were the leading source of OSHA citations in fiscal years 2014, 2013 and 2012, new figures show.

Those citations can be expensive, even when no injuries occur. Home builders and trade contractors have been required since March 2013 to comply fully with OSHA's Compliance Guidance for Residential Construction, which applies to work conducted at six feet or higher.

"Management did not take any action to minimize the fall hazards while the employees worked from residential roofs, even though the workers wore harnesses and there were ropes and anchors on the roof," said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA's area director in Jacksonville.

"Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry, which is why employers must ensure their workers use fall protection systems properly."

   

Tagged categories: Fall protection; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; North America; OSHA; Roofing contractors

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