loader-icon
Success 

How Maestro Construction's Negligence in Fall Protection led to Severe OSHA Penalties?

A construction worker falling from a height due to lack of fall protection gear.

Introduction:

Construction sites are one of the most hazardous environments, as falls, slips, and trips are a constant safety threat for the workers. Regardless of the continuous efforts of the authorities to implement the safety guidelines, fall-related incidents and violations happen frequently. Recently, Maestro Construction Inc. was charged with penalties and cited by OSHA as it exposed its employees to falls and trips. This article will explain in detail the legal actions that the construction company had to endure due to its negligent behavior. It will also delve into the importance of fall protection training and the implementation of safety guidelines at construction sites.

What happened at the Construction of Hanover Park Subdivision?

In December 2023 and February 2024, Maestro Construction Inc.'s employees were involved in the construction of 2 homes at the Hanover Park subdivision, during an investigation by the Federal workplace safety inspectors, it was revealed that Illinois-based Maestro Construction Inc. was exposing its employees to deadly fall hazards at the construction sites.

Inspectors with the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration noticed that the employees were working at heights of up to 20 feet without proper fall protection. Reportedly, some employees were wearing fall protection safety gear, but not appropriately, making it of no use. The company was not able to certify that the employees were trained in fall hazard protection and the usage of personal protective equipment. The construction company also used damaged electrical cords, putting the workers at further risk. All of these led to penalty imposition and citation by OSHA.

OSHA's Legal Action and Penalties Against Maestro Construction

Maestro Construction Inc has been cited 7 times previously as well. But in 2023, it was cited 4 times regarding the fall-related violations. The safety violations were identified at two worksites on Greenbrook Court. OSHA issued two willful, two repeat and two serious violations along with one-other-than-serious violations to the Maestro Construction Inc. The construction company has been recommended with $264407 of penalties.

Jacob Scott, the OSHA Area Director in Naperville, stated that
Contractors just like Maestro Construction, who are intentionally ignoring the federal safety standards for fall protection, are putting the lives and well-being of their employees in danger.

He also said that the company had been cited 7 times since 2020, and still, they continued to endanger the lives of their employees. He further added that OSHA will hold them accountable for their non-compliance with regulations.

Risks Associated with Neglecting Fall Protection Guidelines

On construction sites, falls can have both physically and emotionally devastating effects on the employees. Falls cause injuries such as broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and other major injuries that can lead to death, permanent disabilities, and decreased life quality. Fall-related accidents also cause a major emotional toll on employees, leading to stress, depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Implementing OSHA's Guidelines for Fall Protection at Construction Sites

Following are OSHA's guidelines to ensure the safety of employees while working at heights:

  • First and foremost, the walking or working surfaces should be assessed for strength and structural integrity.
  • After determining that the work surfaces will safely support the worker's weight for relevant work activities, the next step involves the assessment for fall protection. Fall protection is mandatory, according to Subpart M, when employees work at heights of 6 feet or above a lower level.
  • Guardrail systems, personal fall arrest systems, and safety net systems are mentioned as conventional fall protection by OSHA. Other systems and methods of fall protection can be used for certain activities. For example, when working on formwork, it is better to use a positioning device system.
  • Workers performing overhand bricklaying and related safety work 6 feet and above a lower level must have guardrail systems, personal fall arrest systems, and safety net systems for protection. They should also work in the controlled access zone.
  • A low-slope roof has a 4 in 12 slope or less. If the worker is working on a low-slope roof with unprotected sides or edges 6 feet or more above the lower level, they must use:
    • Guardrail systems.
    • Personal fall arrest systems
    • Safety net systems
    • Both conventional fall protection and warning line systems combined
    • A safety monitoring system and a warning line system

Fall Protection Training Requirements as Mandated by OSHA

The employer is obliged to provide fall protection training to the workers who are exposed to fall hazards. Fall protection training must cover fall hazard recognition and how to reduce them.

The workers should be trained by a competent person who is well-versed in the following areas:

  • The fall hazard nature in the work area.
  • The accurate procedures for erecting, maintaining, disassembling, and examining the fall protection systems to be used.
  • The operation and use of controlled access zones, personal fall arrest, guardrails, warning lines, safety nets, safety monitoring systems, and other protection types to be used.
  • The accurate procedures for the handling and storing of the materials and equipment.

Enroll in Our Courses:

HAZWOPER OSHA Training LLC has been providing comprehensive safety training and courses for various industries including the construction industry. Our OSHA Competent Person for Fall Protection Training is designed to cover the fall hazards and safety protocols to be applied. Our safety training and courses are available online, instructor-led, and in SCORM formats, so you can have professional, IACET Accredited training in your preferred learning format.

Conclusion:

Adhering to the fall protection requirements is pertinent in ensuring the safety of construction workers and avoidance of legal penalties. Employers must approach fall protection with clarity and craft site-specific protection strategies, that should be up-to-date and stick to OSHA's guidelines. Ongoing training of employees and staying informed about the evolving standards is key to ensuring the safety of workers and the workplace.

References:

Occupational Safety and Health Administration, June 12, 2024, Illinois contractor exposes employees to deadly fall hazards twice in 2 months at homes under construction in Hanover Park subdivision, https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/region5/06122024

U.S. Department of Labour, 6th June 2024, Citation and Notification of Penalty, https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/OPA/newsreleases/2024/06/OSHA2024131%20Maestro%20Construction.pdf

OSHA, Fall Protection in Construction, https://www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/publications/OSHA3146.pdf

Published on: June 25, 2024