OSHA Investigates Death due to Fall Arrest System Failure
On June 16, 2021, OSHA’s investigation of the death of a 21-year-old laborer due to falling 50 feet while erecting scaffolding at a Brooklyn building project resulted in OSHA proposing a fine of $300,370 for two willful and two serious safety violations.
The incident which took place in November 2020 was investigated by OSHA. The resulting decision found that the death of the young laborer was due to the fall arrest harness of the worker not being tethered as per regulatory requirements during the building construction. It is a widely known fact that falls account for a large number of worker injuries and deaths annually in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); falls, trips and slips caused 880 worker fatalities in 2019, while 711 of these fatalities were due to workers falling to lower levels (2019).
OSHA concluded that the 21-year-old laborer, who fell nearly 50 feet as he installed a supported tubular welded frame scaffold during construction of a seven-story Brooklyn building was due to the failure of Everest Scaffolding Inc., to safeguard the laborer by making sure that his fall arrest harness was attached as per OSHA requirements.
OSHA cited the company with the following four violations:
- Failure to evaluate the feasibility of using fall protection and failure to use feasible fall protection during the erection of a supported scaffold.
- Not providing adequate training to employees on fall hazards associated with scaffold work.
- Failure to inspect fall arrest systems before use.
- Not properly determining if the anchorage for employees’ personal fall arrest systems could support at least 5,000 pounds.
View the citations for more details.
Importance of Training
According to OSHA Area Director Kay Gee in Manhattan, “This tragedy could have been prevented if Everest Scaffolding had provided appropriate training on fall hazards and ensured workers were using fall protection correctly” (OSHA, 2021, para 3).
This sad death of such a young worker brings to light the importance of training workers when they work at heights and on scaffolding. Thus, employers should proactively train workers on fall protection and ensure they are aware of the safety and health requirements when they work on scaffolding.
Call to Action!
BLS. (2019). Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) – Current. Industry by event or exposure. Website. https://www.bls.gov/iif/oshcfoi1.htm
OSHA. (2021). News Release – Region 2. OSHA cites Bronx contractor after 21-year-old laborer erecting scaffolding suffers deadly fall at Brooklyn building project. Website. https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/region2/06162021