Two Fatal Falls, One from 40 Feet, the Other from 225 Feet, Lead to $609K in Fines

OSHA has fined the C.A. Franc construction company $539,000 following the investigation of a roofing worker who fell 40 feet to his death at a worksite in Washington, Pa. The Valencia, Pa.-based roof installer -- whose owner is Christopher A. Franc -- was cited for 10 per-instance willful citations for failing to protect workers from falls.

"Mr. Franc knowingly and willfully failed to protect his workers from falling to their death," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "Despite repeated requests from workers that he provide fall protection, on this steep roof, Mr. Franc refused to provide readily available protection. We will not tolerate this type of blatant and egregious disregard for the health and safety of workers."

OSHA began its investigation immediately following the worker's death on Aug. 15, 2009, and found the C.A. Franc company had failed to provide any fall protection to its employees working on a pitched roof 40 feet off the ground. In addition, Franc failed to train a newly hired college student in hazards and the necessary safety measures for roofing work. As a result of the investigation, the company has been cited for 10 alleged per-instance willful violations, one for each employee working unprotected on the roof, with a proposed penalty of $490,000, and one additional alleged willful violation for failing to train the new employee, with a penalty of $49,000.

General contractor Hospitality Builders Inc. also has been cited with one willful violation and a proposed penalty of $70,000 for failing to ensure that C.A. Franc workers had fall protection. And in a related criminal charge, Christopher A. Franc entered a guilty plea in federal court on Feb. 12 to a violation of 29 U. S. C. Section 666(e). Sentencing is scheduled for June 18.

"This fall fatality was one of five that occurred during a 15-day span in the Pittsburgh area," said John M. Hermanson, OSHA's regional administrator in Philadelphia. "Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry. Failure to provide employees with fall protection is unconscionable. We urge construction companies to take the necessary action to ensure their workers are protected."

OSHA's investigation of one of the other fall fatalities in that 15-day span began on Aug. 18, 2009, after a worker for Mariani & Richards Inc. fell 225 feet to his death. OSHA found that the company did not provide workers with any fall protection while they were performing maintenance on The Pennsylvanian Building, a historic landmark in downtown Pittsburgh. As a result of the investigation, the company has been cited with one willful violation and a proposed penalty of $70,000.

"This company was cited for the same violation in November 2007 but never took the proper steps to ensure workers were safe at this worksite, resulting in this tragedy," said Robert Szymanski, director of OSHA's Pittsburgh office. "OSHA will not tolerate employers who flagrantly ignore the regulations designed to protect workers on the job."

OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

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