Fru-Con Construction cited in bridge project fatality

From an OSHA news release:

TOLEDO -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed $150,000 in fines against Fru-Con Construction Corp. following the company's most recent violations of federal safety regulations, which resulted in a fatal fall for one employee.

OSHA opened its latest inspection at the Maumee River Bridge construction project after learning that scaffolding had broken free from the bridge, causing a carpenter to fall approximately 80 feet to his death. OSHA subsequently issued two willful violations of federal workplace safety regulations, with the maximum total penalty of $140,000, and two serious citations with proposed penalties totaling $10,000.

The willful citations allege that the company failed to have a competent person inspect the scaffold each time it was moved and re-erected, and to ensure fall protection was used by employees when climbing over the parapet wall to gain access to the scaffold platform.

The serious citations allege that Fru-Con failed to construct the scaffold in accordance with the manufacturer's design and to properly train employees responsible for erecting, disassembling and moving the scaffold.

Pointing out that construction projects hold the potential for being inherently dangerous places for employees, Jule Hovi, OSHA's area director in Toledo, said: "Injuries, illnesses and fatalities can be prevented if employers follow federal safety and health guidelines. When employers ignore these standards and regulations, working men and women are needlessly put at risk.  In this case, a man paid with his life."

OSHA had inspected the Maumee River Crossing Project seven previous times since 2002, resulting in 13 citations, including four egregious willful citations issued in 2004 after Fru-Con failed to follow manufacturer specifications when operating a self-launching gantry crane. The crane collapsed, fatally injuring four iron workers and hospitalizing four others.

OSHA operates a vigorous enforcement program, conducting more than 38,000 inspections in fiscal year 2006 and exceeding its inspection goals in each of the last seven years.  In fiscal year 2006, OSHA found nearly 84,000 violations of its standards and regulations.

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 assure the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health.

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Posted by KO