US Labor Department's OSHA cites Texas-based Symmetry Turf Installations
for worker's heat-related death at Fayetteville, Ark., work site
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Symmetry Turf Installations LLC of Mount Pleasant, Texas, with two serious safety violations for failing to protect employees working in excessive heat. OSHA conducted an inspection after a forklift operator died of complications from heat stroke that occurred in June while resurfacing the football practice field at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
"This tragedy underscores the need for employers to take proactive steps to keep workers safe in extreme heat," said John Hermanson, OSHA's regional administrator in Dallas. "If this employer had been familiar with the symptoms of heat stroke, this unfortunate incident could have been avoided."
OSHA's Little Rock Area Office cited the employer under the agency's general duty clause for failing to train workers to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat illness as well as on precautions to take when employees are working under such conditions. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Information and resources for workers and employers on heat illness – including how to prevent it and what to do in case of an emergency – are available in English and Spanish at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/index.html. Materials include a training curriculum. OSHA also has a free application for mobile devices that enables workers and supervisors to monitor the heat index at their work sites, which can be downloaded in English or Spanish at http://s.dol.gov/RI. The app displays a risk level for workers based on the heat index, as well as reminders about protective measures that should be taken at that risk level.
Symmetry Turf Installations employs about 14 workers. Proposed fines total $5,040. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Little Rock or contest the findings 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), or the agency's Little Rock office at 501-224-1841.
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 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 information above is available in large print, Braille or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.