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Fall Hazards=Big Fines

OSHA has hit two construction employers with big fines in the last couple days for fall hazards. A case in Miami of a roofer who fell 40 feet to his death resulted in a fine of $54,100 levied against Southern Certified, Inc. Roofer Jose Espinales reportedly tripped and fell over a ledge to his death. The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported that, unbelievably, "after Espinales' death, the company continued to let other employees work on the same roof without proper fall protection, according to OSHA's report." (!) What were they thinking???

In another case, OSHA proposed a fine of $70,000 against Shawnlee Construction Inc, of Plainville, Mass., for failing to provide fall protection for a worker at a 50 foot height. Fortunately, in this case, the inspection occurred before anyone was killed.

It should be noted that OSHA's large proposed fines are often negotiated down substantially and that final penalties paid tend to be far lower. Let's hope that OSHA officials take a harder line in these cases and stick with fines that will act as a real deterrent to the kind of unsafe actions that caused the death of Jose Espinales and so many other workers exposed to fall hazards.

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