Safety Officials: NY Construction Worker’s Fall-Related Death Could Have Been Prevented

An investigation conducted by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) in May 2014 concluded that the fall-related death of Kyle Brown, a 23-year-old construction worker, could have been prevented. OSHA officials cited MTL Design, Inc., Brown’s employer, for not providing fall protection equipment to its employees. The citation also included a fine for $88,900.

scaffold.jpgIn November 2013, Brown was working on installing metal decking on a roof of a car dealership located in Pulaski, New York. As Brown was attempting to secure a metal sheet to the roof, a strong gust of wind caused him to fall 24 feet. He was rushed to Upstate University Hospital, but he succumbed to his life-threatening injuries several hours later. OSHA investigators discovered that Brown was wearing a safety harness; however, his employer did not provide him with a place to anchor the harness to catch him in the event of a fall. According to the OSHA website, falls accounted for 22 construction related deaths in 2012, and failing to provide adequate fall protection is the most cited OSHA violation.

Commenting on Brown’s death, Christopher Adams, OSHA’s Syracuse director, remarked, “This needless fall and resulting death were entirely preventable. Had this company provided its employees with required fall protection equipment, anchorage and training, this young man would be alive today. Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, yet they are also among the clearest hazards to identify and eliminate. Fall protection safeguards save lives, but only if they’re properly and effectively implemented.”

While on the job in 2012, 806 construction workers were killed nationwide. Most of these deaths were caused by four key factors. The leading cause of deaths among construction workers was falls, which accounted for 279 fatalities–or over one-third of the deaths. Accidents in which workers were struck by an object accounted for 79 construction deaths. Electrocutions resulted in 66 fatalities, and accidents in which construction workers got caught in between two objects caused 13 deaths. If these “fatal four” causes were eliminated, nearly 437 construction workers would be saved every year.

To address fall-related construction accidents, OSHA announced that it is sponsoring National Safety Stand-Down events from June 2 through June 6, 2014. The events are designed to encourage construction companies to address fall-related safety with their employees. Companies are encouraged to discuss such topics as the proper use of harnesses, scaffolding and ladders. OSHA regional administrator Robert Kulick stated, “The stand-down is part of OSHA’s ongoing fall prevention campaign aimed at educating workers, employees and the public about the need for employees to operate in a safe work environment, provide their employees with proper and effective fall protection equipment and train their employees to recognize fall hazards and use equipment safely.”

Website Resource: Troopers identify 23-year-old construction worker killed after falling off roof at F.X. Caprara in Pulaski, syracuse.com, Jeff Stein, November 19, 2013

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