SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Following the death of 23-year-old construction worker Kyle Brown, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that his employer, Watertown-based general construction contractor MTL Design Inc., failed to provide and ensure the use of fall protection safeguards that would have prevented his death. OSHA cited the company for a willful and a serious violation.
'This needless fall and resulting death were entirely preventable. Had this company provided its employees with required fall protection equipment, anchorage and training, this young man would be alive today,' said Christopher Adams, OSHA's area director in Syracuse. 'Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, yet they are also among the clearest hazards to identify and eliminate. Fall protection safeguards save lives, but only if they're properly and effectively implemented.'
The fatality occurred on Nov. 18, 2013, when Brown was part of a crew installing metal decking atop the roof of an automobile dealership under construction in Pulaski. As Brown attempted to secure sheets of decking, he was blown off the roof by a wind gust and fell 24 feet to his death.
OSHA's investigation found that while Brown was wearing a fall protection harness, it was useless, as the workers were not provided with a means to connect to an independent anchorage point to stop a fall. The company failed to train employees to recognize fall hazards, ensure adequate anchorage for lifelines and secure the decking against displacement by the wind.
Brown's death was one of 22 fatal falls in New York's construction industry in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Failing to provide fall protection for workers is one of the 10 most frequently cited OSHA violations.
To raise awareness of fall hazards and safeguards, a National Safety Stand-Down to prevent falls in construction will be conducted from June 2-6. This is a voluntary event where employers talk to their employees about fall hazards and reinforce the importance of fall prevention. Participating employers stop work and provide a focused toolbox talk on a safety topic, such as ladder safety, fall protection equipment or scaffold safety. Detailed information on the stand-down is available at http://go.usa.gov/kuP4.
'The stand-down is part of OSHA's ongoing fall prevention campaign aimed at educating workers, employers and the public about the need for employers to operate in a safe work environment, provide their employees with proper and effective fall protection equipment and train their employees to recognize fall hazards and use equipment safely,' said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.
Because of its investigation, OSHA issued MTL Design one willful citation for the lack of fall protection. A willful violation is committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. Three serious citations were issued for the remaining hazards. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
MTL Design, which faces $88,900 in proposed fines for its violations, is a general contractor that specializes in site work, concrete work and steel building construction. It has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet informally with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Syracuse Area Office at 315-451-0808.
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. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.