$407,400 Proposed Fine in Fall Case, Falls Are Leading Cause of Death in Construction

 
Thursday, November 12, 2015
 

A fall from a third-story balcony killed 44-year-old Jorge Carrion Torres as he worked on the exterior of an apartment complex on May 14, 2015. Torres, who had been on the job for one month, was applying stucco underlayment to the balcony walls when the incident occurred. His employer had not installed scaffolding and had not provided Torres or his co-workers with personal fall protection. 

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited his employers, Design Plastering Inc. and Design Plastering West LLC, of Phoenix, on Nov. 10 for eight egregious willful and four serious violations. Previously, the state OSHA in Arizona had cited Design Plastering seven times for allowing fall-related hazards.

Federal safety and health officials have proposed fines totaling $407,400 for the citations.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that one in five private industry worker deaths in 2014 were in construction. Falls are the leading cause of death for construction workers, accounting for nearly 40 percent of 2014's construction fatalities. Texas leads the nation in construction fatalities. This is the second egregious case involving fall protection there in recent months. Earlier this year, a construction worker in Houston denied a safety harness suffered severe injuries after falling through a roof.

Based in Phoenix, plaster and stucco contractors Design Plastering and Design Plastering West employ about 90 workers. They have 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. 

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. 

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