Houston contractor fined $70,000 for willfully exposing workers to fall hazards
HOUSTON – Amalda Enterprises Inc. has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration with one willful violation for exposing workers to fall hazards while installing gutters at a construction site in Houston. The proposed penalty is $70,000.
OSHA's Houston North Area Office began the March inspection under a regional enforcement initiative to prevent deaths among workers in the construction industry. In 2011, more than 260 workers in the United States were killed by falls in the construction industry. In Texas, there were 28 construction-related fatalities from slips, trips and falls in 2012.
"Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry, and Amalda Enterprise is very much aware of how to protect its workers. Such disregard for worker safety will not be tolerated, which is why OSHA issued the maximum penalty amount under the law for this violation," said David Doucet, OSHA's area director in the Houston North office.
The willful violation was cited for exposing employees who were working on an unprotected side or edge of a building to falls. Three workers were installing gutters from the roof of a newly built warehouse without fall protection, ultimately exposing these workers to falls of 21 feet or more. Two of the workers were wearing body harnesses, but the employer failed to install a guardrail system, safety net system or personal fall arrest system that included an anchorage point for attachment of the worker's body harness and lanyard. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
OSHA standards require that an effective form of fall protection, such as guardrails, safety nets or personal fall arrest systems, be in use when workers perform construction activities 6 feet or more above the next lower level. Detailed information on fall protection hazards and safeguards is available online at http://www.osha.gov/stopfalls/index.html.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Houston North area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) the agency's Houston North Area Office at 281-520-6171, or the Houston South Area Office at 281-286-0583.
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 ensure these conditions exist for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The department's Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).