A 22-year-old apprentice ironworker fell more than 30 feet to his death while standing on a 9-inch-wide steel girder on a building under construction in Kansas City. On the job for just a few weeks, the worker was not provided fall protection by his employer, Fastrack Erectors Inc., a subcontractor on the construction job. After an investigation into the July 25, 2014, fatality, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the structural steel company for seven willful and three serious safety violations and placed the company in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
Fatal falls, slips or trips took the lives of 699 workers in 2013. Falls remain the leading cause of death in the construction industry.
“This young man had his whole life ahead of him. His dreams of marriage, children and exploring the great outdoors were cut short because his employer failed to provide fall protection, a violation of its own safety manual and OSHA rules,” said Marcia Drumm, OSHA’s regional administrator. “This tragedy illustrates how quickly a worker can die when fall protection is not provided, and why it’s so important.”
OSHA’s inspection found that Fastrack Erectors violated its own safety manual and a signed contract with the site’s general contractor, ARCO National Construction-KC Inc. The contract required subcontractor personnel who worked at heights higher than 6 feet to be provided with adequate fall protection.
In addition to failing to provide fall protection, Fastrack Erectors also allowed workers to climb the scissor lift guardrails to access the steel frame and decking and allowed them to climb the rails of the aerial lift basket. A total of seven willful violations were cited.
A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.
OSHA also found Fastrack Erectors used makeshift devices on scaffold platforms to increase working height, did not inspect fall arrest systems before use and failed to instruct workers on the use and application of fall protection equipment, resulting in three serious violations.
An OSHA violation is serious when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
OSHA has proposed penalties of $511,000 as a result of the violations found during the inspection.
ARCO National Construction-KC Inc., the general contractor on the site, has been cited for four serious violations, including lack of fall protection during steel erection activities, using makeshift devices to increase working heights and climbing the guardrails of aerial and scissor lifts. OSHA has proposed penalties of $24,000 for the St. Louis–based company.