Once again, most of the biggest OSHA fines in the first quarter of 2020 were related to falls. Despite OSHA’s emphasis on detecting these types of violations, which are the leading cause of accidental deaths among construction workers, some employers still aren’t getting the message.
In the latest violation, OSHA has cited CJM Roofing Inc. – based in West Palm, Florida – for exposing employees to fall and other hazards at three residential worksites in Jensen Beach and Port St. Lucie, Florida.
The contractor faces penalties totaling $199,711.
OSHA initiated inspections in November 2019 and March 2020, as part of the Regional Emphasis Program for Falls in Construction, after inspectors observed employees working on roofs without fall protection.
OSHA cited the company for failing to provide a fall protection system, ensure that portable ladders extend above the upper landing, and conduct regular inspections of the jobsite to identify safety hazards. The agency has inspected the company eight times in the past five years, resulting in repeat violations of the fall protection standard.
Falls from heights remain the biggest cause of occupational fatalities in the construction industry.
According to a report by the NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program (FACE), 42% of deaths between 1982 and 2015 in construction involved falls; 54% of workers killed had no access to a personal fall arrest system; and 20% of fatalities occurred in the victims’ first two months on the job.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that in 2018, there were 320 fatal falls to a lower level out of 1,008 construction fatalities.
OSHA’s Fall Prevention Campaign states that when working from heights, employers must plan projects to ensure that the job is done safely. Begin by deciding how the job will be done, what tasks will be involved, and what safety equipment may be needed to complete each task.
According to the National Safety Council, every $1 invested in injury prevention can return between $2 to $6 as productivity increases, contentment with work and the workplace among employees rises, and higher retention creates a more sustainable and successful working environment.