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August 01, 2022
OSHA cites Florida, Wisconsin employers for fall violations

On July 27, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced citations for J & L Roofing Inc. of Pompano Beach, Florida, following an employee’s fatal fall and proposed $74,751 in penalties.

 On July 28, OSHA announced it also cited Lopez Roofing of Appleton, Wisconsin, with 1 repeat and 1 serious violation and proposed penalties of $94,263.

OSHA’s construction industry fall protection standard (29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §1926.501) remains the agency’s most frequently cited standard, cited 5,295 times in fiscal year (FY) 2021.

OSHA’s investigation into an incident at a Davie, Florida, building site found that J & L Roofing Inc. allowed employees to tear off an existing roof without fall protection at a two-story residence. On January 19, 2022, a worker fell from the roof onto a lower level and then to the ground, succumbing to his injuries after 29 days in the hospital.

The agency cited J & L Roofing with one willful violation for exposing workers engaged in roofing activities to fall hazards without protection and one serious violation for failing to train workers on the correct use of fall arrest systems. The agency also issued an other-than-serious violation for failing to report a work-related hospitalization within 24 hours and a fatality within 8 hours, as required under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

“Had J & L Roofing Inc. ensured that its workers were protected from the construction industry’s leading cause of death, a young man’s life could have been spared,” Condell Eastmond, OSHA’s Fort Lauderdale area office director, said in an agency statement. “Instead, a family and a community are left to grieve and an employer is learning a painful lesson that federal workplace safety standards exist to help prevent needless and unnecessary tragedies.” 

OSHA also cited J & L Roofing Inc. in 2018 for its failure to ensure the use of fall protection at a Tamarac, Florida, worksite.

Lopez Roofing of Appleton allowed three roofers to work at heights up to 18 feet without anchoring their fall protection, making it useless in preventing serious or fatal injuries, according to the agency. An OSHA inspector observed the unsafe conditions on May 11, 2022, as the workers removed materials from a residential roof in Sheboygan.

“If a fall arrest system is not worn and anchored properly, there is nothing to stop a worker from possibly becoming a statistic, as falls from elevations remain one of the leading causes of death in the construction industry,” Robert Bonack, OSHA’s Appleton area director, said in an agency statement.

“Assigning workers to perform dangerous tasks without training them on how to protect themselves is inexcusable. OSHA will hold employers accountable when they fail to meet their legal requirements to provide safe working conditions.”

OSHA cited Lopez Roofing for similar violations twice between 2014 and 2017. The agency also noted that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 1,008 construction workers died on the job in 2020, with 351 of those fatalities related to falls from elevation.

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