Potential 50-Foot Plunge for Worker Leads to $70,000 Penalty for Contractor

OSHA has cited Shawnlee Construction Inc. for an alleged willful violation of fall protection safety standards and proposed a $70,000 fine against the Plainville, Mass.-based wood-framing contractor.

The citation and proposed penalty follow an OSHA inspection at a building under construction in Chelsea, Mass. The agency's inspection found that a Shawnlee employee was exposed to a 50-foot fall while working without fall protection on the building's roof. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

"The dangers of fall hazards cannot be understated, as falls are the number one cause of death in construction work," said Paul Mangiafico, area director for OSHA's Boston North office in Methuen, Mass. "While no fall occurred in this case, the potential for a fatal 50-foot plunge was present. This reality underscores why fall protection measures must be in place, in use, and effective at all times."

OSHA standards require an effective form of fall protection whenever employees work at heights of six feet or greater. Detailed information about fall hazards and safeguards is available on OSHA's Web site at www.osha.gov/SLTC/fallprotection/index.html. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Boston North area director in Methuen, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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