Alabama Construction Company Cited After Heat Hazards Claim Worker’s Life
SJ&L General Contractor LLC now faces $16,131 in proposed OSHA penalties for the violation.
- By Robert Yaniz Jr.
- Feb 07, 2024
A 33-year-old concrete finisher succumbed to heat illness at a construction site in Huntsville, Alabama. And the ensuing OSHA investigation has concluded that the company, SJ&L General Contractor LLC, failed to protect its workers against the environment’s extreme temperatures.
According to a release dated Feb. 5, the worker was hand forming concrete curbs in July 2023 when they showed symptoms of heat stress, such as stumbling, incoherent speech and vomiting. Despite first aid efforts and hospitalization, the individual died within two hours of admission. At the time, the heat index was nearing 107 degrees, with humidity levels at 85 percent.
OSHA's findings indicate that SJ&L General Contractor LLC failed to provide its 19 employees, including the deceased worker, with necessary protections such as adequate rest and access to shade during their 10-hour shifts under direct sunlight. The agency has proposed penalties amounting to $16,131, as determined by federal statutes, for the company's negligence.
“Had the employer ensured access to shade and rest in this brutal heat, this worker might not have lost their life and would have been able to end their shift safely,” OSHA Area Office Director Joel Batiz in Birmingham, Alabama, said in a statement. “Regardless of the season—summer or winter—employers must establish rest cycles, train workers in identifying signs and symptoms of weather exposure, ensure workers have time to acclimate to temperatures, and implement and follow safety plans and ensure those plans are monitored. If not, weather conditions can have severe—and sadly, sometimes fatal—consequences, as they did in this case.”
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics concluded that fatalities caused by exposure to extreme temperatures—including those due to environmental heat—increased 18.6 percent in 2022. SJ&L General Contractor LLC has 15 business days from receipt of the penalties to comply with the citations, request an informal conference with OSHA or contest the agency’s findings.
Robert Yaniz Jr. is the Content Editor of Occupational Health & Safety.