While some are quick to label workplace injuries and fatalities as "accidents," they are often better described as "incidents," because many can be avoided with basic health and safety measures.
Unfortunately, we are reminded of that fact again following the death of an HVAC installer in Georgia, whose fatal injuries federal officials say could have been prevented.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the contractor was attempting to get a saw unstuck from a metal roof when it sprang loose unexpectedly, sending him toppling through an unguarded skylight 15 feet to the concrete floor below. Despite being rushed to a nearby hospital, the man later died from his injuries.
"This tragedy was preventable. Martin Mechanical Contractors knowingly exposed its workers to dangerous fall hazards and failed to take action to protect them," said William Fulcher, OSHA's area director in the Atlanta-East Office in an agency release. "Employers are responsible for either addressing workplace hazards or not putting workers at risk of being injured or killed. Our investigation found Gearing's employer did neither."
Following an inspection of the worksite, OSHA issued the man's employer one willful citation for failing to protect workers from tripping or falling into an unguarded sky light, and one other-than-serious safety citation for failing to report the fatal incident within eight hours. Martin Mechanical now faces $54,000 in proposed fines.
To reduce the risk of injury at your workplace, consider working with construction site safety specialists like Safety Advantage. Our experienced consultants can help you develop and implement behavior based safety programs that can help your employers better identify and mitigate risks. Contact us today for more information.