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March 10, 2016

OSHA cites Serwas Window Cleaning Services
after 20-year-old window washer falls to death
Safety violations found at three company jobsites

OSHKOSH, Wis. - A 20-year-old window washer fell more than 58 feet to his death because his safety lines were not properly tied off, federal inspectors found.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Serwas Window Cleaning Services LLC, for a total of one willful and eight serious safety citations following three separate investigations of company worksites in Appleton, Green Bay, and Oshkosh. The investigations were opened following the worker's Sept. 9, 2015, death.

"This young man's tragic death illustrates the importance of training workers in the proper use of fall protection systems," said Robert Bonack, OSHA's area director for the Appleton office. "Window washing is an inherently dangerous job. Employers must ensure workers have the proper equipment and are trained in its use."

OSHA's fatality inspection found the rooftop rigger being used by the worker was not tied back to a separate anchor point and counterweights were not utilized prior to him going over the edge to clean a set of windows at a senior living property on Hazel Street in Oshkosh.

The agency cited the company for four serious violations for failing to use fall protection properly and train workers in fall protection systems used during drop work. OSHA also issued Serwas a hazard letter for not marking or tagging the ropes used on the rigger with the length, diameter, and date placed in service.

While investigating the fatality, inspectors found another worker had fallen on a job site on Adams Street in Green Bay on July 16, 2015, OSHA issued three serious violations* to the company on Jan. 12, 2016, for violating fall protection standards. Serwas has contested those citations.

On Oct. 1, 2015, an OSHA inspector observed workers cleaning gutters on a residential roof on Durkee Street in Appleton, without fall protection. The company was cited for failing to provide fall protection on this site as well.

Citations for the Hazel* and Durkee Street* violations were issued to the company on March 7. Proposed penalties for all three inspections total $ 69,800.

OSHA offers a Stop Falls online resource with detailed information in English and Spanish on fall protection standards. The page provides fact sheets, posters, and videos that illustrate various fall hazards and appropriate preventive measures. OSHA standards require that an effective form of fall protection be in use when workers perform construction activities six feet or more above the next lower level.

The agency's ongoing Fall Prevention Campaign was developed in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and NIOSH's National Occupational Research Agenda program. Begun in 2012, the campaign provides employers with lifesaving information and educational materials on how to prevent falls, provide the right equipment for workers and train employees to use gear properly.

Sewas Window Cleaning Services has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, 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 Appleton area office at 920-734-4521.

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.

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Media Contacts:

Scott Allen, 312-353-6976, allen.scott@dol.gov
Rhonda Burke, 312-353-6976, burke.rhonda@dol.gov

Release Number: 16-379-CHI


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).


*Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.


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