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Federal workplace safety regulators have proposed a total of $91,536 in penalties against four Florida contractors after a worker fell nearly 11 feet to his death.
Leonardo Javier Lopez-Montelo, 33, fell through an unprotected stairway opening as he performed punch-list activities at a Miami housing complex construction site, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Wednesday in a statement. An investigation into the June incident by OSHA found that the stairway opening had no guardrails or cover as required, which his employer knew about.
OSHA issued eight workplace safety citations to Homestead, Florida-based Southern Chills Inc., Miami-based Capri Construction Corp., Miami-based SB Painting & Waterproofing Inc. and West Park, Florida-based Brothers Carpentry Corp.
The agency issued Southern Chills two repeat citations for failing to protect workers from falls up to 11 feet with a guardrail or personal fall system, and not training employees to recognize fall hazards or procedures while working at elevated levels. The company is facing $46,641 in proposed fines, according to the citations.
OSHA also issued serious citations to Capri, SB Painting and Brothers Carpentry for failing to protect workers from fall hazards with a guardrail or personal fall system. Additionally, the agency cited SB Painting and Brothers for not training workers to recognize fall hazards while working at elevated levels, and cited Capri for exposing workers to fall hazards due to a lack of frequent inspections to ensure hazardous conditions did not exist or were corrected. Capri is facing proposed fines of $17,459, SB is facing proposed penalties of $17,460, and Brothers is facing $9,976 in potential penalties, according to the citations.
“This was a preventable incident,” Condell Eastmond, OSHA's area director in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said in a statement. “Capri and Southern Chills failed in their responsibility to protect their employees and chose to ignore the need to install the necessary fall protection system which would have saved Leonardo.”
The contractors could not be immediately reached for comment.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s long-awaited slips, trips and falls rule is relatively uncontroversial and employer-friendly, making it less vulnerable to reversal under the incoming administration than other agency rules, experts say.