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Review commission affirms repeat fall protection violation

fall hazard

An administrative law judge of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission on Tuesday affirmed a repeat citation issued to a construction company for failing to provide fall protection to a worker.

A 2019 incident in which a worker was preparing to pour concrete about 20 feet above the ground without fall protection resulted in a citation for Turner Constriction Inc. of Naples, Florida. That was two years after the company was found to have violated the same Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s fall protection standard when a worker was exposed to a 13-foot fall hazard without protection, according to documents in Secretary of Labor v. Turner Construction Inc. of Naples, filed in Washington.

Following an inspection in 2019 an OSHA compliance safety and health officer issued a citation alleging a repeat violation of the standard that requires employers to provide an employee with fall protection while working on a surface more than six feet above the next lower level. OSHA proposed a $20,420 penalty.

Turner Construction, in disputing the citation, alleged employee misconduct, according to documents.

The administrative law judge disagreed, writing in Tuesday’s ruling that the “record reveals Turner Construction did not have, enforce, or effectively communicate any specific rule, designed to prevent the alleged violation” and that although a company executive “testified his employees had taken fall protection classes after the prior violation, he provided no evidence of any relevant specific fall protection work rule being communicated to his employees.”

The judge added that “instead, the evidence adduced at trial shows no fall protection systems were available at the worksite,” and added that “Turner Construction failed to show it effectively enforced any rules or disciplined any employee when the alleged violation occurred.”

The judge reduced the fine to $10,210 due to the small size of the company, according to documents.