Safety and OSHA News

Worker falls 30 feet, dies; more than $1 million in total penalties

A judge has issued the maximum criminal penalty allowed by law to a Missouri company in connection with the death of a worker who fell 30 feet because he didn’t have fall protection. 

A federal judge ordered DNRB Inc. of Pacific, MO, which did business as Fastrack Erectors, to pay a half-million-dollar fine in quarterly installments of $25,000 over a period of five years. (DNRB voluntarily dissolved as a corporation in January 2016.)

DNRB had been found guilty of violating an OSHA regulation and causing the death of an ironworker, 22-year-old Eric Roach.

On July 24, 2014 at a construction site in Kansas City, MO, two Fastrack ironworkers were receiving a bundle of roof decking sheet metal on top of a building’s bar joists. Roach was one of the two workers. He fell approximately 30 feet to the ground and was transported to a local hospital where he died the following day.

The employees accessed the top of the building from a scissor lift and walked along joists and trusses that were between five and nine inches wide without wearing any fall protection.

Fastrack was a subcontractor on the building construction. Its contract required Fastrack “personnel who are working or present at heights in excess of six feet shall be provided, by Fastrack, adequate fall protection.” Fastrack didn’t provide fall protection equipment.

According to prosecutors, both foremen on the worksite were in a position to observe employees failing to use fall protection equipment. At least one of the foremen failed to wear fall protection himself.

Federal OSHA regulations required each employee engaged in a steel erection activity who is on a walking/working surface with an unprotected side or edge more than 15 feet above a lower level to be protected from falls by guardrails, safety nets, personal fall arrest equipment, positioning devices or fall restraints.

OSHA issued seven willful and three serious safety violations to Fastrack for a total of $511,000 in fines. The dissolved company faces more than $1 million in total penalties. OSHA’s website says its inspection of Fastrack isn’t yet closed, meaning the civil penalties could still be reduced.

Among the citations OSHA issued to Fastrack:

  • failing to provide fall protection for employees working at heights of more than six feet
  • allowing workers to climb a scissor lift to access steel frame and decking, and
  • failing to instruct workers on the use of fall protection equipment.
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Comments

  1. Falls from heights are a terrible risk on construction sites. OSHA needs to penalize companies that simply ignore the rules, refuse to provide fall protection equipment and fail to train their employees. Strong enforcement by OSHA may deter other companies and, in turn, prevent needless personal injuries and deaths.

  2. William Virella says:

    Until management and supervisors are personally penalized and held accountable, “shortcuts” will continue.

  3. This organization has a safety culture problem. Wonder how many fall protection violations occured without incident prior to this unfortunate event?

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