Department of Labor Logo OSHA News Release - Region 5

March 7, 2023

Unaware of the danger, painter fatally falls 21 feet after stepping onto
unsecured balcony at Cleveland residential construction project

Neither general contractor, balcony installer marked safety hazards

CLEVELAND – A 51-year-old painting contractor at a residential apartment complex in Cleveland stepped onto a third-floor balcony and it tilted suddenly, causing him to fall 21 feet onto the concrete below. As he lay injured, the balcony slid off its wall mount and landed on top of the painter. He died from his injuries.

Investigators with the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined the balcony was unsecured, and discovered neither the 93rd Street worksite's general contractor, Geis Construction of Streetsboro nor J.C. Jones Corp. of Peninsula – the subcontractor hired to install the balcony – had placed a required warning sign to alert workers the imminent danger and did not assess if the balcony's structural integrity and strength could support employees safely.

OSHA also found the unsecured balcony platform was unfastened and floated on wall mounts freely.

"Hazard warning signs must be displayed and balconies, exits and high-level platforms must be blocked when practical during construction to prevent anyone from using them and falling from heights or into active construction zones," explained OSHA Area Director Howard Eberts in Cleveland. "When multiple employers have workers onsite, the general contractor is responsible for making sure that all companies on the project work safely and follow federal and industry-recognized standards to protect employees."

OSHA issued a citation to Geis Construction for one willful violation and one serious violation and proposed $154,696 in penalties. J.C. Jones Corp. received a citation for one willful and one serious violation with proposed penalties of $31,252.

Both companies have 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Learn more about OSHA and fall protection in residential construction.

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Media Contacts:

Scott Allen, 312-353-4727,
Rhonda Burke, 312-353-4807,

Release Number: 23-419-CHI