Last month we told you about how a newspaper photo got an organization into trouble with OSHA. Now, fear of something similar happening cost some workers a week on the job. A newspaper snapped their photo while they were dangling their legs over the edge of an I-beam, eating lunch and watching a ball game.
The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne, IN, recently ran a front-page photo of the workers at a construction project watching a minor league TinCups baseball game.
The picture is reminiscent of a classic 1932 photo taken by Charles Ebbets showing 11 men on a beam 69 stories above the streets of New York, eating their lunch.
As for the Journal Gazette photo, nothing like getting your picture in the local paper, right?
Well, unless the photo shows you violating an OSHA regulation. And your employer sees it.
Now, the men have been suspended from their jobs for a week.
The problem: The workers were sitting inside a guardrail. Had they been behind it, they would have been OK.
The newspaper heard from the workers about their suspension, and it called construction site superintendent Randy Vondron. The paper said he was “clearly a little upset,” and explained that sitting with their legs dangling over the edge was an OSHA violation.
Sure they were on their lunch break, but they were still on the construction site. OSHA rules still apply, even when they’re off the clock.
Vondron said because of the violation of a safety rule, action had to be taken. He said he had no idea the workers were eating their lunches and watching the ball game until he saw the photo. He says he’s concerned the company could be fined. As we told you last month, it has happened recently. Regarding this case, OSHA confirmed to The Journal Gazette it can issue a fine based on a newspaper photo, but it didn’t have a copy of this photo.
You may want to remind your workers: These days, almost every cell phone is also a camera. It’s much easier to be caught in the middle of an OSHA violation.