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Fall Risks at Plant Draw $75K Fine

Friday, February 27, 2015

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A mobile-home manufacturer in Oregon faces $75,800 in fines for exposing unprotected workers to 13-foot falls and other hazards.

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) issued citations alleging five violations—one willful and four serious—against Fleetwood Homes Inc.

Fleetwood Homes
Oregon OSHA

OR-OSHA inspectors photographed employees at the Woodburn, OR, plant climbing up and over guardrails from scaffolding without tie-off points for harnesses.

An August 2014 inspection, triggered by an employee complaint, found employees climbing over guardrails of scaffolding onto the roof of a mobile home with no tie-off points to connect a fall protection harness.

The plant, in Woodburn, OR, is owned and operated by Phoenix, AZ-based Cavco Industries Inc.

Cavco Industries did not return a request for comment Thursday (Feb. 26). The company has 30 days to appeal the citation.

Willful Violation

The state agency accused the company of one willful violation, carrying the maximum penalty of $70,000. A willful violation exists when an employer intentionally or knowingly allows a violation to occur.

The state agency said managers at the mobile home manufacturer were made aware of employee exposures to falls, but did not provide protection.

Fleetwood Homes
Oregon OSHA

Oregon OSHA said plant management ignored employee and agency concerns and reminders about fall protection.

Employees reportedly expressed fall-protection concerns three times in 2014 before notifying Oregon OSHA in August, according to the regulators.

"Even after Oregon OSHA itself brought the issue to management's attention and management acknowledged the need to provide fall protection, work continued without such protection," the agency said.

"Year after year, falls are one of the major sources of serious injury and death in Oregon," said Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood.

"There is no good reason to disregard the need to protect workers from such risks. Yet, this employer consciously ignored fall protection rules that are designed to prevent injuries or deaths."

Four Serious Hazards

The agency also issued four citations alleging serious violations. The violations allege:

  • Allowing employees to stand on the guard rail of scaffolding;
  • Failing to provide an access ladder or other safe access to scaffolding;
  • Failing to provide hard hats in an area where there was an exposure to falling objects; and
  • Failing to inspect fall protection equipment.

The agency proposed $5,800 in fines for those violations.

OSHA fall protection
OSHA

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

A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Safety Record

The plant, which employs more than 100 non-union workers, has a history of safety infractions.

Most recently, it was fined $850 for three serious and four other-than-serious hazards, according to OSHA’s database.

That case, from April 2014, involved the failure to guard floor and wall openings and holes as well as machine hazards.

   

Tagged categories: Citations; Contractors; Enforcement; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; Home builders; North America

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