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The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission affirmed two serious citations but reduced the fines following a review of a fatality that occurred while workers were constructing a 20-story condominium building in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Ceco Concrete Construction LLC, a Kansas City, Missouri-based structural concrete construction company, was cited after a 2016 accident in which an employee died after falling from the 16th floor of a building under construction, according to documents in Secretary of Labor v. Ceco Concrete Construction LLC, filed in Washington on Feb. 26 and made public Tuesday.
Following the accident, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted an inspection, finding that poor building design features caused the fall, in which the man’s fall protection gear was broken. OSHA issued the company a four-item, serious citation, of which two items were contested in the review.
One of the contested OSHA violations was for “failing to design formwork to withstand vertical and lateral loads from wind gusts.” The other was for “failing to properly secure a formwork table’s legs and anchor plates to the building’s concrete floor.”
An administrative law judge affirmed both citation items, and assessed the proposed $12,675 penalty for each violation.
In part “the judge found that Ceco had actual knowledge because the foreman at the worksite knew the individual formwork tables were not designed to withstand lateral wind loads and nevertheless exposed himself and his crew to the hazard of a table falling,” according to the review commission. “On review, Ceco reasserts essentially the same argument it made with respect to noncompliance — that the judge erred in finding knowledge because the Secretary failed to demonstrate the employer’s installation process was actually insufficient.”
The review commission stated that testimony established “that adequate wind speeds were not accounted for in the design of the formwork” and that “this is sufficient a violation.”
In rejecting most of Ceco’s arguments, the commission affirmed both citations, but assessed a single grouped penalty of $12,675, finding that “both violations involve essentially the same hazard — a formwork table detaching and falling during the construction process — and stem from effectively the same violative conduct — Ceco’s failure to design the formwork to withstand reasonably anticipated wind gusts.”
Insufficient fall protection remained the most frequently cited workplace safety violation in fiscal year 2020, according to research released Monday by the National Safety Council.