Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I just don't get it!

Since I can remember (and I've been at safety now for 35 years) falls have been a leading cause of death and personal injury in the construction industry. So, why do contractors still ignore what should be "common sense" protection for their workers.

Today, OSHA reported fining a contractor for a $70,000 willful violation of the fall standard. According to their press release, OSHA "cited Shawnlee Construction Inc. for an alleged willful violation of fall protection safety standards and proposed a $70,000 fine against the Plainville, Mass., wood framing contractor.

The citation and proposed penalty follow an OSHA inspection at a building under construction at 325 Commandants Way in Chelsea, Mass. OSHA's inspection found that a Shawnlee employee was exposed to a 50-foot fall while working without fall protection on the building's roof. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

"The dangers of fall hazards cannot be understated, as falls are the number one cause of death in construction work," said Paul Mangiafico, area director for OSHA's Boston North office in Methuen. "While no fall occurred in this case, the potential for a fatal 50-foot plunge was present. This reality underscores why fall protection measures must be in place, in use and effective at all times."

Come on guys! What is so tough about fall protection? I can sympathize with a general contractor who fights with his subs to "tie-off" - but why does any contractor look for ways around compliance rather than spending the time protecting their workers? I know it's a problem, I fight it every day. But, it is still frustrating. In many cases, just some hazard awareness training would go a long way.

1 comment:

  1. It's like getting people to wear seat belts (or helmets) - inconvenient, time consuming, uncomfortable - and it flies in the face of the "it won't happen to me" attitude. The fact is, people have car (and motorcycle) accidents and seat belts (and helmets) save lives, and prevent injury - at least as compared to not wearing one. Think about the costs to business of all the accidents that could be avoided. Think about the cost to businesses when a worker dies. Insurance companies should charge higher premiums to those who don't comply, and offer discounts to those who do (like safe driver programs). Workers who fail to wear their PPE should get fines (ie "tickets") every time it happens, and 3 strikes and you are out ("FIRED!"). If the employer or the property owner / manager or general contractor doesn't enforce this, they should be fined severely - and let those fines help pay for the financial bailouts (ha!).