Sprinkler Installer's Fall Leads to Investigation, $61K in Fines

OSHA has cited Tri-State Sprinkler Corp. for alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards after a worker fell ten feet at a Medford, Mass., worksite. The Derry, N.H.-based contractor faces a total of $61,200 in proposed fines.

The agency began its inspection on Sept. 29, 2009, after learning of an August incident in which an employee fell and was seriously injured while installing a sprinkler system above the ceiling of a building at the site. OSHA's inspection found that no form of fall protection, required when employees work six feet or higher, had been provided.

"The need for fall protection was clear and recognized, yet this employer did not provide this basic, commonsense, and legally required safeguard," said Paul Mangiafico, OSHA's area director for Middlesex and Essex counties. "This hazard was exacerbated by a lack of fall protection training, through which the worker could have recognized and prevented this hazard, and the employer's failure to ensure prompt and timely medical attention for the injured worker."

OSHA issued the company one willful citation, with a $42,000 proposed fine, for the lack of fall protection and six serious citations, with $19,200 in fines, for the lack of training and prompt medical attention, not providing a ladder that extended three feet beyond the elevated work surface, not ensuring that the work surface could sustain the employee's weight, exposed live electrical wires, and an unguarded pipe threading machine.

OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health while serious citations are issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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