$120,000 OSHA Fine For Worker Fatality Attributed to Failure to Inspect, Recognize Visible Hazards

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Last week, Reich Installation Services, Inc. was assessed a $121,800 fine for two willful and two serious safety citations that led to the death of worker Leonardo DeJesus, aged 27.  The accident occurred when Leonardo and a co-worker fell from a “swing-stage” suspended scaffold installation at a new Kroger distribution center in Forest Park, GA. The two men were attempting to realign sections of the rail to move the scaffold when the rollers supporting the scaffold came off the rail, causing the scaffolding to fall nearly four stories. While both workers were wearing fall protection, De Jesus’s fall protection equipment came off the rail causing the fatal injury. His co-worker’s fall protection remained intact and recovered with minor injuries. The incident occurred on Dec. 8th 2015, and the OSHA citations were issued to Reich Installation Services on June 13th, 2016.

Regarding the accident, Keith Hass, OSHA’s acting director of the Atlanta-West office, had the following to say:”Reich Installation’s disregard for the scaffold’s installation specifications and the lack of an inspection, after encountering problems, caused this preventable death… Reich management was advised by a third-party of proper scaffold methods and should not have put these workers at risk.

Reich Installation Services was issued the following citations:

Citation Number: 29 CFR 1926.451(g)(3)

Type: Serious

Proposed Penalty: $4,900

Description: Personal fall arrest systems, when working from scaffolds, did not meet the requirements of 29 CFR 1926.502(d) in that anchorage used for attachement of personal fall arrest equipment was not independent of any anchorage being used to support or suspend platforms and capable of supporting at least 5,000 (22.2 kN) per employee attached or was not designed, installed, and used as part of a complete personal fall arrest system which maintained a safety factor of at least two:

Citation Number: 29 CFR 1926.454(b)

Type: Serious

Proposed Penalty: $4,900

Description: The employer did not have each employee who was involved in erecting, disassembling, moving, operation, repairing, maintaining, or inspecting a scaffold trained by a competent person to recognize any hazards associated with the work in

Citation Number: 29 CFR 1926.451(f)(3)

Type: Willful

Proposed Penalty: $56,000

Description: Scaffolds and scaffold components were not inspected for visible defects by a competent person before each work shift, and after any occurrence which could affect a scaffold’s structural integrity:

You can find the complete PDF of the OSHA Citation Report here.

As a result of this incident, OSHA is considering placing Reich Installation Services in its Severe Violators Program. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer’s facilities on reasonable grounds it suspects there are similar violations.

Lessons Learned:

The preventable death of Leonardo De Jesus is a stark reminder that ignoring safety can carry serious consequences. Due to Reich’s improper inspection practices, the faulty scaffolding was not identified until it was too late. Falls from heights are the most common source of fatalities in the construction industry, and OSHA has created a dedicated fall prevention campaign to help prevent these types of accidents.

Unfortunately, incidents like this are all too common. Preventing further tragedies like this not only requires proper training and due diligence, but also an established inspection program to help recognize and correct unsafe conditions when they do arise. Mobile Inspection helps you to maintain a safe work environment by allowing you to create custom inspection checklists, schedule inspections, and instantly access all of your inspection data from the cloud. Interested in learning more? Contact us today to see how we can help you make safety a priority, or sign up for a free 30 day trial.