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July 15, 2022
Florida employers cited in fatalities

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) area offices in Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville, Florida, cited two employers following workplace fatalities.

The agency’s Fort Lauderdale office cited Fleming Island, Florida-based Ballhawker of Florida Inc. with 12 serious violations after a 26-year-old diver drowned in a pond on a Ponte Vedra Beach golf course. OSHA is seeking $55,870 in penalties. The agency’s Jacksonville office cited Union Carpentry LLC, a Fort Pierce carpentry contractor, with 1 willful and 1 serious violation after a 19-year-old worker suffered fatal injuries in a 25-foot fall. OSHA proposed penalties totaling $32,113.

Diver’s drowning

In December 2021, a dive technician and a coworker employed by Ballhawker of Florida were recovering sunken golf balls in a pond on a Ponte Vedra Beach golf course. When the diver became unresponsive, the coworker pulled him from the water and asked a passing golfer to call 911. The diver was transported to a local hospital, where he later died.

The agency cited Ballhawker of Florida for violations of several commercial diving operations standards, alleging that the employer failed to:

  • Train divers to handle assigned tasks safely, including using equipment. 
  • Ensure all dive team members were CPR-trained.
  • Provide a first-aid handbook or a resuscitator at the dive location.
  • Provide continuous monitoring, and oversee diving operations.
  • Inspect diving equipment and components before each dive.
  • Test air compressor systems for air purity every 6 months.
  • Use diver depth gauges.
  • Set up an operational communication system among all dive team members.
  • Comply with pre-dive requirements before operations.
  • Develop and maintain a safe practice manual for divers.

Agency inspectors determined that Ballhawker also failed to keep records of workers and job details, including a designated person in charge; the date, time, and location of the job; and water and surface conditions.

Fatal fall

OSHA cited Union Carpentry for failing to ensure employees wore fall protection while exposed to fall hazards and failing to train workers on the correct use of fall arrest systems. A Union Carpentry worker installing trusses and plywood sheathing on a residential development clubhouse fell about 25 feet onto a concrete floor.

“Falls from elevation cause the most fatalities in the construction industry, and time and again, we find employers exposing workers to fall hazards by ignoring safety standards,” Condell Eastmond, OSHA’s Fort Lauderdale area office director, said in an agency statement.

OSHA referred to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) data showing that falls account for more than one in three of all construction industry deaths.     

Weekend inspections

To address fall hazards in construction, OSHA area offices in Denver and Englewood, Colorado; Billings, Montana; and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, will conduct weekend safety and health inspections in select counties in Colorado’s Front Range, Montana, and South Dakota:

  • Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, and Weld counties in Colorado;
  • Carbon, Stillwater, and Yellowstone counties in Montana; and
  • Brookings, Lincoln, Minnehaha, Pennington, and Union counties in South Dakota.

“OSHA’s Weekend Work initiative will identify and address construction-related fall hazards on weekends, when many employers typically do not monitor their job sites well,” said Jennifer Rous, OSHA’s Denver regional administrator, in an agency statement.

Heat warnings

OSHA’s Atlanta and Philadelphia regional offices cautioned employers not to ignore the dangers of working in hot weather, both indoors and outside. The regional offices reminded employers to incorporate water, rest, and shade into the workday to prevent serious illness or worse.

This year, OSHA regional offices in Boston; Chicago; Dallas; Kansas City, Missouri; and Sioux Falls also have alerted employers that they need to protect workers from the hazards of excessive heat.

OSHA also has a rulemaking that would establish the first federal heat exposure standard and an ongoing heat hazards National Emphasis Program (NEP) that targets industries in the agricultural, construction, manufacturing, and wholesale sectors, as well as automobile dealerships, postal service, and freight and rail transportation.

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