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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.
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Region 1 BOS 2003-184
Monday, July 28, 2003
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: (617) 565-2074


Fatal Fall at Brandeis University Worksite Leads to $46,200 in OSHA Fines for Danvers, Mass., Contractor

METHUEN, Mass. -- The death of a worker who fell two stories to his death at a Waltham, Mass., construction site could have been prevented if his employer, William A. Berry & Son, had supplied required fall protection, according to citations issued by the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

William A. Berry & Son, of Danvers, Mass., general contractor on the construction of a new dormitory at Brandeis University, faces $46,200 in fines for alleged willful and serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, following the March 2 fatality. A crew of laborers was dismantling a temporary work platform on the second floor level of an unfinished stairwell when one of them fell through the partially dismantled platform to the basement level.

OSHA's inspection found that the employer had not provided fall protection for the workers. This exposed these workers to falls of almost 26 feet from the work platform. The workers had also not been instructed to recognize and avoid such fall hazards.

"Falls are the number one killer in construction, having cost the lives of more than 400 American workers in 2001," explained Richard Fazzio, OSHA's area director for Middlesex and Essex Counties. "This case shows in the starkest terms why fall protection is an absolute necessity when employees are working six feet or more above the next level."

Berry & Son faces a fine of $42,000 for failing to provide the fall protection, while a $4,200 fine is proposed for the lack of training. A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations. A serious violation as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. OSHA's Methuen, Mass., area office conducted the inspection. Its telephone number is (617) 565-8110.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is dedicated to saving lives, preventing injuries and illnesses, and protecting America's workers. Safety and health add value to business, the workplace and life. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

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The information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (617) 565-2072. TDD (Telecommunications Device dor the Deaf) Message Referral Phone: 800-347-8029.


Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents

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