For the second time in recent weeks, a company says it will contest OSHA fines in connection with the death of an employee due to heat stress.
In the more recent case, A.H. Sturgill Roofing of Dayton, Ohio, says it’s challenging two OSHA citations having to do with the death of an employee last August.
According to OSHA, the temporary Sturgill employee was working in direct sunlight at a site in Miamisburg, Ohio. He was throwing rubber materials from a flat commercial roof into a dump truck. On Aug. 1 he was hospitalized for heat exposure. On Aug. 22 he died from complications related to heat stroke.
OSHA issued two serious citations for failure to:
- provide a program addressing heat-related hazards in the workplace (a General Duty Clause citation), and
- train workers on recognizing the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses, including taking preventive measures, such as consuming adequate amounts of water.
The fines total $8,820.
In a statement, the company said, “At the time of the incident, procedures were in place to deal with job site conditions but it was only 82 degrees — conditions far from those typically causing heat stress.”
The company’s lawyer, Bob Dunlevey, told the Dayton Daily News that “OSHA is currently attempting to emphasize issues related to employee heat stress and to set precedent upon which OSHA can cite other employers in the future under its General Duty Clause — no specific OSHA standard exists as to heat stress issues, but Sturgill was still cited.”
Previous heat death, larger fine
Recently, OSHA also cited the U.S. Postal Service for the heat-related death of a mail carrier in Independence, MO. OSHA issued one willful citation for $70,000 to the Postal Service for not protecting employees from exposure to the recognized hazard of working outside during periods of excessive heat. On the day of the postal worker’s death, temperatures rose above 100 degrees.
OSHA also used the General Duty Clause in this case to issue the citation. The Postal Service says it is contesting the citation.
Even though federal OSHA doesn’t have a standard regarding heat stress, California and Washington have their own state laws.