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May 08, 2024
Two employers facing OSHA fines in fatal falls

A pair of employers—one in East Boston, Massachusetts, and another in Hahira, Georgia—face Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) citations and fines following employees’ fatal falls.

Sky Safety Inc. of East Boston faces $447,087 in OSHA penalties after a window cleaner’s fatal 29-story fall from a building in downtown Boston’s financial district, the agency announced May 2.

The window cleaning company failed to inspect and replace damaged or defective equipment, according to OSHA. Agency inspectors determined that Sky Safety willfully exposed employees to fall hazards by not ensuring personal fall protection systems and a rope descent system workers used were in proper working condition at a 100 Summer Street worksite. Investigators learned the company hadn’t adequately inspected the rope and equipment for damage and other deterioration and hadn’t removed defective components from service before each work shift or replaced them.

OSHA’s investigation determined that the company:

  • Failed to adequately train employees on how to inspect ropes for maximum allowable wear, recognize defects and conditions that warrant removal from service, and properly use the rope descent system. The ropes used in the rope descent systems weren’t effectively padded or otherwise protected to prevent them from being cut or weakened. 
  • Allowed the use of rope descent system lanyards, lifelines, and ropes for personal fall protection that were incompatible with connectors and unprotected from damage such as cuts and erosion.   
  • Failed to use only certified building anchorage for the rope descent system.

The agency cited Sky Safety with two willful, four serious, and two repeat violations. OSHA had cited Sky Safety’s predecessor company, Hi-Rise Inc., for exposing workers to similar fall-related and equipment hazards in May 2019 and December 2013 at Boston area worksites.

“To ensure the safety of employees who work at heights, employers like Sky Safety Inc. must make their responsibility to provide comprehensive training on inspecting rope descent systems and fall protection equipment and components before each use an absolute priority,” Galen Blanton, OSHA’s Region 1 administrator, said in an agency statement.

Georgia employer cited in fatal fall at Florida worksite

Landmark Erecting Inc., a Hahira, Georgia, construction contractor, faces $46,550 in OSHA penalties after a 31-year-old employee suffered a fatal fall at a worksite in Arcadia, Florida, the agency announced May 1. Agency investigators had cited the employer for similar violations 10 months earlier.

Investigators determined that a three-person crew employed by Landmark Erecting was installing metal roofing sheets on a building when one worker fell 12 feet onto a concrete slab below and suffered traumatic head injuries.

OSHA cited the employer with a repeat violation for not ensuring workers used fall protection as they walked along a roof frame, and it cited the company for a similar violation at a Tallahassee worksite in January 2023.

Following the latest inspection, the agency cited the employer with a serious violation for failing to ensure the availability of accessible medical treatment for the injured employee and an other-than-serious violation for not reporting a work-related fatality within 8 hours.

“Landmark Erecting’s repeated failure to follow required safeguards to protect employees from falls, especially after we cited the company less than a year earlier for exposing workers to this potentially deadly hazard, is inexcusable,” Danelle Jindra, OSHA’s Tampa, Florida, area office director, said in a statement.

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