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Eric T. Chaffin
Eric T. Chaffin
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Winesburg Builders Puts Workers at Risk of Falls in West Virginia

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A building company in West Virginia is facing the possibility of thousands of dollars in fines after an inspection found that it was exposing workers to serious fall hazards.

Indeed, according to a recent report by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), “slips, trips and falls constitute the majority of general industry accidents.” They cause 15 percent of all accidental deaths, “and are second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities.”

It’s up to companies to put safety measures in place to help protect workers, but according to a recent OSHA inspection, Winesburg Builders LTD have failed to put these measures into place, leaving employees at risk.

OSHA Issues Citations for Failure to Protect Employees from Potential Falls

On March 28, 2016, OSHA reportedly issued seven violations to the company. Violations included:

  • Two willful violations, which means that the employer knowingly failed to comply with legal requirements, or acted with plain indifference to employee safety.
  • Two repeated violations, which means that they had been previously cited for the same condition.
  • Three serious violations, which means that the workplace hazards found could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm.

OSHA stated in a press release that it observed Winesburg workers exposed to falls “as high as 22 feet without protection while performing roofing and framing work on a new construction project.” OSHA opened an investigation into the matter, and found other workers also exposed to falls 11 feet high without protection. The agency cited the company for its failure to “guard window and stairway openings.”

OSHA requires employers to set up the workplace in such a way that employees are prevented from falling off overhead platforms or workstations, or from falling into holes of various sorts. Elevations of four feet and higher must be protected in general industry workplaces, and six feet and higher in the construction industry.

Employers must put certain safeguards in place, like guard railings, hole coverings, and toe-boards. In some situations, they must also provide safety harnesses and nets, and handrails.

OHSA Proposes Fines for Putting Workers at Risk

OSHA states that it has “an extensive history” with this company, having conducted inspections in Ohio and Pennsylvania, as well as in West Virginia. It has issued citations for more than 22 violations so far related to fall hazards.

After this most recent round of citations, OSHA reportedly proposed the company be fined $121,800. Prentice Cline, director of OSHA’s Charleston Area Office, stated that the company’s “reckless approach to worker safety leaves its employees one step away from a potentially deadly fall. It is vital that construction companies take responsibility for protecting their workers from preventable injuries and serious hazards. No one should have to sacrifice their safety for their livelihood.”

According to a recent OHSA report, over 4,600 workers died on the job in 2014.