The Underwood Group Inc., along with seven subcontractors, was cited for safety violations by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for failing to provide workers with required fall protection equipment. As a result, a worker fell 29 feet to his death at a condominium construction site in Canyon Lake. The proposed penalties total $53,480. OSHA cited The Underwood Group of Cornelia, Ga., with one willful and one serious violation, with a penalty of $15,600. San Antonio-based MZ Flooring Partners, a painting contractor who employed the now-deceased worker, was cited for two serious violations and a penalty of $8,600.
"The cost of providing fall prevention equipment is nominal compared with the senseless loss of life. Fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction workers, accounting for 269 of the 775 construction fatalities recorded in 2012," said Casey Perkins, OSHA's area director in Austin.
The remaining six contractors include Longhorn Concrete Co., cited for three serious violations with a $10,080 penalty; Meekins Electric Co., Chabert Plumbing LLC, Bowers Construction Co. and Luis Guajardo, each cited for two serious violations with a $4,400 penalty; and Cutting Edge Builders, cited for one serious violation with a penalty of $1,600.
To prevent fall-related injuries and fatalities, OSHA held the 2014 National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction event in June. An estimated 1 million workers and 25,000 businesses and industry leaders put a halt to their work for one hour during that week to discuss the importance of recognizing fall hazards and implementing fall safety measures. The event was part of OSHA's ongoing Fall Prevention Campaign, which aims to provide lifesaving information and educational materials to employers regarding how to prevent falls and provide workers with the proper safety equipment.
The employers have 15 business days from receipt of their citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.