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Construction Sites Must Have Proper Fall Protection

Falls are one of the frequent forms that construction injuries can take. When companies fail to take sufficient steps to protect workers, federal safety regulators can issue fines to help hold those employers accountable.

That is exactly what the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration did recently in taking action against an Illinois contractor for safety violations at two work sites in the Chicago area.

OSHA has proposed a fine of $54,120 against Woodbridge Enterprises, Inc. for a total of four violations. The violations include failure to provide fall protection for workers on a scaffold higher than 25 feet.

Woodbridge Enterprises is a roofing contractor on both commercial and residential sites. The company is based in Lemont.

Safety inspectors have Woodbridge on their radar. There have been five inspections since 2003, with numerous citations for lack of protection. The inspections have also found other hazards that can cause construction injuries.

When OSHA proposes a fine, a company has 15 business days to respond. The company could comply with the OSHA findings or request a conference with the area director of OSHA. It could also contest the findings.

OSHA's area director, Kathy Webb, is clear in her commitment to protect workers against unnecessary falls. "Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry," she said. "Falling to provide fall protection places workers at risk for serious or fatal injuries."

The statistics bear out this warning. In 2010, the number of construction workers who were injured when they fell from heights was over 10,000. More than 250 of these falls were fatal.

Source: "OSHA cites Lemont contractor for safety violations," Southtown Star, 6-5-12

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