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Region 1 News Release: 10-174-BOS/BOS 2010-078
Mon., Feb. 22, 2010
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: 617-565-2074

US Department of Labor's OSHA cites North Carolina and Georgia contractors following fatal worker fall from Epping, NH, water tower

CONCORD, N.H. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited two contractors responsible for the rehabilitation and painting of a municipal water tower in Epping, N.H., for alleged violations of safety standards following the Aug. 7, 2009, death of a worker who fell 90 feet from the tower.

OSHA's inspection found that the deceased worker's employer, Bullins Painting Inc., the Eden, N.C., subcontractor performing the tower work, failed to provide him with fall protection. Both Bullins Painting and the project's general contractor, Utility Services Inc. of Perry, Ga., failed to inspect fall protection equipment before each use, protect vertical lifelines against cuts and abrasions, and provide a ladder cage or equivalent safeguard for tower access ladders.

"This case is a clear and grave example of the human cost incurred when required fall protection safeguards are absent, ignored or inadequate," said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA's New Hampshire area director. "The loss of a worker's life could have been prevented if these protective measures had been in place and in use."

OSHA identified additional safety and health hazards for Bullins employees, including improper anchorage points for the lifelines, an uninspected suspended scaffold, respirator protection deficiencies, overexposure to respirable dust, fumes and solvents, improper transfer of flammable liquids, smoking while mixing flammable liquids, electrical hazards and failing to appropriately monitor the inside of the water tank for oxygen-deficient atmospheres before workers entered it. Both employers also were cited for recordkeeping violations.

All told, Bullins Painting has been issued three willful, 16 serious and one other-than-serious citations, with $187,800 in proposed fines while Utility Services Co. was issued one willful, two serious and three other-than-serious citations, with $93,000 in fines.

OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for worker safety and health, while serious citations are issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known. Detailed information on fall hazards and safeguards is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/fallprotection/index.html.

Each company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Concord Area Office in New Hampshire; telephone 603-225-1629. To report workplace accidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-6742.

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 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.

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U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit http://www.dol.gov/compliance.


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