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Repeat Hazards Spark $80K in Fines

Friday, December 11, 2015

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Following a fatal fall at a Kyle, TX, construction site and a later inspection that also revealed fall hazards, the federal agency that oversees worker health and safety has fined a San Antonio-based company more than $80,000.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Tuesday (Dec. 8) that Longhorn Contractors had failed to provide appropriate fall protection equipment for Gabriel Palacios, who fell 35 feet to his death in July.

Fatality Site

After a July 7 inspection, OSHA cited the company for three serious violations, two repeat violations and another violation at the site where the framing company had been working when Palacios fell.

Photos: OSHA

OSHA has cited Longhorn Contractors for a fatal fall in July and subsequent fall safety hazards discovered at another site in August. The agency said the company is a repeat offender.

“Gabriel Palacios’ tragic death occurred because Longhorn Contractors neglected to do the right thing and continued to expose workers to falls, which ultimately took the life of a 20-year employee,” said Casey Perkins, OSHA’s area director in Austin, of the Kyle investigation.

Second Inspection

A subsequent inspection Aug. 27 at a Live Oak construction site also revealed a fall hazard, OSHA said. The agency cited the company again for three repeated violations and one serious violation for the fall hazards there.

“Longhorn Contractors has failed to address safety hazards from seven previous OSHA citations dating back to 2008,” said Alejandro Porter, OSHA’s area director in San Antonio, regarding the Live Oak investigation. “The company continues to expose workers to preventable hazards.

“OSHA will stay vigilant to ensure the employer adheres to necessary safety requirements to protect personnel,” continued Porter.

OSHA also said the framing company (not shown) used scaffolding improperly and had been cited for those hazards before, too.

OSHA sent both sets of citations to Longhorn on Tuesday.

Kyle Citations

During the Kyle investigation, OSHA alleged that Longhorn had:

  • Failed to provide frequent inspections of the job site, inspection and materials, classified as serious and carrying a fine of $3,850;
  • Delayed medical care to an injured employee because its workers were not advised on how to summon help before starting work, serious, $3,850;
  • Exposed workers to fall hazards greater than 34 feet without securing an anchorage point that could withstand 5,000 pounds, serious, $5,500;
  • Failed to ensure that workers at heights greater than 6 feet were protected by fall arrest systems, guardrails or safety nets, repeat, $15,400 (the company had been cited previously on May 24, 2012, and Nov. 7, 2014);
  • Failed to provide an employee training program for fall hazards, repeat, $15,400 (the company had been cited previously on May 19 and on May 24); and
  • Delayed reporting a fatality within eight hours, other-than-serious, $3,850.

Live Oak Citations

During the Live Oak investigation, OSHA alleged that Longhorn had:

  • Not ensured that unstable objects were not used as a working platform, serious, $4,620;
  • Used scaffolding that was not designed by a qualified person nor constructed according to design, repeat, $9,240 (the company had previously been cited on May 19);
  • Failed to attach scaffolding attached to a forklift correctly, repeat, $9,240 (the company had been cited previously on May 11, 2011); and
  • Not ensured that employees working from scaffolds were protected from personal fall arrest system or guardrail systems, repeat, $9,240 (the company had been cited previously on May 19).

Company Disconnected

In its statement, OSHA said Longhorn employs about 30 workers in the framing business. The company’s website said it works on residential; multi-family; hotels and motels; offices and conference buildings; and retail/restaurant construction services. It also offers trash haul-off and dumpster services.

The phone number listed on the company’s website had been disconnected as of Thursday (Dec. 10). OSHA said Longhorn has 15 days to respond to its citations.


Tagged categories: Commercial Construction; Fall protection; Fatalities; Good Technical Practice; Government; North America; OSHA; OSHA; Residential Construction

Comment from john lienert, (12/11/2015, 9:24 AM)

who cares about negligience/death when it only costs $80K on a multi-million dollar project........might as well ignore the fines.....still injuring people after at least 5 years of the same warnings/fines....they're JUST WORKERS

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