Most individuals who work construction are familiar with doing their jobs a good ways above the ground. Working on a ladder or on a roof comes with the territory. How else will someone nail shingles, run wires, replace siding and any other multitude of jobs? This is an inherently dangerous part of the job, and why there are series of safety practices in place. When companies shirk these practices, tragedy often strikes.
That was the situation last spring in Greenwood Village when a construction worker fell to their death while on a job. The worker, who remains unnamed, was busy installing metal roofing panels on a storage building when they lost their footing and plummeted to the ground.
OSHA’s investigation of the site
According to Global Construction Review, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) quickly sprung to action and investigated the circumstances of the tragedy. The results were very unsettling.
Inspectors concluded that the two firms involved – Hammers Construction and Montes Construction – were not employing adequate fall protection and were allowing workers to climb on the mid rails of scissor lifts.
Perhaps more disturbing, Montes Construction had just been cited by OSHA for failing to provide adequate fall protection in January – less than 3 months earlier.
In the wake of the employee death and gross safety oversights, Hammers Construction and Montes Construction were fined $177,893. OSHA Area Director David Nelson was quoted saying, “This tragedy could have been prevented if they had met their obligations and provided the required fall protection.”
What is expected of employers
Falls are among the most common causes of on the job injuries and deaths. Because of that fact, OSHA has several rules in place to protect employees working at elevations of over four feet in general industry, five feet in shipyards, six in construction zones and eight for individuals working longshore operations.
To uphold the safety of their employees, employers must:
- Keep work zones free of known dangers
- Keep floors and surfaces within the work zone as clean and dry as possible
- Provide personal protective equipment – such as safety harnesses – at no additional cost
- Offer training on job hazards in languages employees understand
In addition to this, employers are also required to keep work zones safe by:
- Guarding every floor hole with a railing and toe board or hole cover
- Setting up guard rails and toe boards around elevated platforms
- Provide guardrails and toe boards around any dangerous machinery regardless of height
This is the least an employer can provide for their employees by mandate of OSHA. If you work at elevation and do not see these safety precautions in place, consider reaching out to OSHA. As OSHA Area Director David Nelson said, tragedies can be prevented if employers follow their safety obligations.