March 9, 2007
Contact: Brad Mitchell
Federal action follows September 2006 fatality
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed $151,500 in fines against the WACO Equipment Co. of Columbus for alleged willful and serious violations of federal workplace safety standards following the death of an employee in September, 2006.
OSHA opened an investigation after receiving notification that an outside hoist used to raise building materials to the upper floors during renovation of the Buckeye Building in Columbus had failed and an employee had fallen as a result. Two willful citations with proposed penalties totaling $140,000 were issued alleging that the company failed to comply with the manufacturer's specifications in the operation of all hoists and elevators, and employees were directed to ride on the material hoist while erecting the hoist tower. A willful violation is one committed with intentional disregard or plain indifference to the law.
Three serious citations with proposed penalties of $11,500 were issued alleging a lack of guarding for rotating belts and pulleys, that lifelines used in personal fall arrest systems were not protected from damage and that car arresting devices were not installed to function in case of rope failure. OSHA issues serious citations when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
"The tragedy of serious injuries and fatalities resulting from falls is made worse by the fact that they are often preventable," said Deborah Zubaty, director of OSHA's Columbus Area Office. "Employers need to be alert to hazards that may result in falls and to correct them before such incidents occur."
WACO Equipment has had seven OSHA inspections since 2000 and has received seven serious OSHA violations during the past three years. The company employs more than 700 people at locations in several Ohio cities including Columbus, Cleveland and Akron.
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. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
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