The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued fines totaling $110,670 for safety violations during the renovation of the former Dye Works building in Easthampton, Massachusetts. On July 11, OSHA inspectors found that workers were exposed to falls from heights up to 40 feet.
The project's general contractor, J. J. Welch of Salem, Massachusetts, was cited for five violations and fined $93,170. According to inspectors, the company provided no fall protection or training for employees working on the roof and failed to cover floor holes.
The other companies involved were Atlantis Comfort Systems of Smithfield, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts companies All Custom Masonry of Rutland and J and R Glass Service of Fitchburg. They were fined $7,000, $5,600 and $4,900, respectively, for not protecting their workers from fall hazards.
"Falls are the number one killer in construction work," stressed Mary Hoye, director of OSHA's Springfield area office. "When fall protection is absent or deficient, as it was here, employees may be only moments away from a deadly or disabling plunge that could kill them or end their careers. The sizable penalties reflect not only the danger of the fall hazards involved, but also the employer's knowledge of the hazards and its deliberate failure to safeguard its employees."
Last summer, OSHA already fined Connecticut company A Fast Blast $47,600 for exposing employees to noxious lead and silica at the same site.
A site specific safety plan can go a long way toward protecting construction workers' health. When the risk of life-threatening falls exists, appropriate measures must be taken and proper training provided to ensure that every project comes to a safe conclusion.