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Cal OSHA cites solar panel installer after employee falls 29 feet

Cal OSHA cites solar panel installer after employee falls 29 feet

California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health has issued $130,125 in proposed fines against Elite Electric Inc. for serious and willful safety violations after a worker installing solar panels fell 29 feet through a skylight.

Riverside, California-based installation company Elite Electric did not provide employees with required fall protection, even though the company charged the building owner for it, according to a Cal/OSHA press release issued on Thursday. 

The 29-year-old employee suffered severe head trauma, cognitive impairment, multiple pelvis fractures, fractured ribs and a collapsed lung in the June accident, the agency said. 

Cal/OSHA issued one general, three serious and one willful-serious workplace safety citations to Elite Electric this week. The willful-serious violation is for Elite’s failure to protect employees approaching within 6 feet of any skylight during the installation of solar panels from falling through them, according to the statement. 

“Falling is the leading cause of death in the construction industry,” Cal/OSHA chief Juliann Sum based in 
Oakland, California, said in the statement. “It is critical for employers to prevent workers — especially those working from great heights — from being injured or killed from falls. This employer was aware of their responsibility and completely failed to fulfill it.”

Elite Electric’s safety manager, management team and a third-party compliance company will review the citation and work with Cal/OSHA to resolve the issue, Steven deWalden, safety manager at Elite Electric, said in a statement. 

“As a company, we have been extremely concerned over the team member’s injury,” he said. “As a company, it’s been a shockwave to us which allowed us to heighten our safety awareness and our safety culture in the company. This incident pointed us to holes that we needed to fix. Since the incident we have heightened the supervision on job sites, expectations, the training all to eliminate a future incident. At this point, our priority remains in hoping that the employee makes a full recovery. We hope that after his recovery, as soon as he is able and capable, we would love to have him back in the company working to some capacity.”


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