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Supplier Cited in Painter Death

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

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Federal authorities have cited Cleveland-based paint maker The Sherwin-Williams Company after a painter died at an apartment building project in Springfield, MO.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the company with one serious violation, carrying a $7,000 fine.

fall protection
Images: OSHA

Falls are the leading cause of death in construction.

The citation stems from the March 24 death of Josh Halphin, 25, of Springfield, who had been helping to unload paint from a forklift on a fifth floor balcony on the Aspen Springfield development. He suffered a 50-foot fatal fall, police said.

'Serious' Citation

OSHA alleged that the paint supplier “failed to ensure exposed employees were protected from files while they unloaded five gallon buckets of paint from an all-terrain fork lift to a fifth floor balcony on a residential,” according to the Springfield News Leader.

A serious violation reflects "substantial probability" of death or serious injury from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

A copy of the citation issued in this case was not immediately available for review Friday (Aug. 2).

OSHA records show that Sherwin-Williams contested the fine July 5. The case now moves to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission for a determination in the matter, according to the newspaper.

A Sherwin-Williams spokesperson said Friday the company did not wish to comment on the case.

Halphin had worked for RF Barratt Enterprises LLC, a painting subcontractor based out of Springfield, for just four months when the tragedy occurred. He was described by family members as a “hard worker.”

OSHA records show the agency closed its investigation of RF Barratt Enterprises July 28 without issuing any citations.

Police Report

A Springfield Police report provided to D+D News following the accident indicated that Halphin and two other employees, including the victim's brother-in-law, had been instructed to move several 5-gallon buckets of white paint to the fifth floor by hand.

However, the police noted that instead, a forklift was used to raise the buckets, stacked on top of a pallet, to the balcony. A supervisor reportedly told police he was unsure why the paint was put onto the lift.

Police noted the absence of railing or safety equipment on the balcony.

Further, a witness reportedly told police he believed the workers may have unloaded too much paint from one side of the pallet, causing it to tilt and break.


Police noted the absence of railing or safety equipment on the balcony.

Halphin was said to have had at least one foot on the pallet when it shifted, authorities noted. Witnesses said they heard a loud noise and found Halphin unresponsive on the ground, police said.

Contractor Statement

In the wake of the accident, RF Barratt, through its attorney Mark Thornhill of Kansas City, MO, released a statement on the case, recounting the incident and blaming the paint supplier.

“Halphin and the other painters were new to the job and they did not have safety training for working at heights,” the statement said.

The attorney said at the time of the incident, Halphin was being directed by an employee of Sherwin-Williams, who had agreed to deliver the paint buckets when and where the painters needed them using an enclosed stairwell.

“On the day of the accident, Sherwin-Williams arrived with paint but asked RF Barratt if some of its employees could help with the paint delivery,” the statement said.

The painters reported to a Sherwin-Williams employee who was said to have “borrowed a forklift and driver” to hoist dozens of 60-pound buckets to the location specified, according to the attorney’s statement. The buckets had been placed on an unsecured wooden pallet on placed on the forklift, he said.

“Halphin was unloading paint from the plywood container when it shifted,” sending the materials and Halphin to the ground below, the statement said.

Thornhill did not respond Friday to a request for comment on the recent developments.


Tagged categories: Citations; Enforcement; Fall protection; Good Technical Practice; OSHA; Painters; Sherwin-Williams

Comment from john lienert, (9/6/2016, 5:58 AM)

tragic, irreversible, sad, unsupervised stupidity.....shame on s-w and rf barratt !!

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