OSHA Cites Williams Brothers Construction for Fall, Impalement Hazards at Houston Highway Site

Repeat and serious violations occurred when workers set barrier copings at the edge of a Loop 610 highway overpass without fall protection

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The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Williams Brothers Construction Co. Inc. with one repeat and one serious violation at a work site on Loop 610 in Houston. OSHA's Houston North Area Office conducted an inspection Aug. 27 and found that workers were setting barrier copings at the edge of the highway bridge overpass without the protection of guardrails, a safety net or personal fall arrest system. Proposed penalties total $45,500.

The repeat violation is for failing to protect workers from fall hazards. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. A similar violation was cited in June 2010.

The serious violation is for failing to protect workers from impalement hazards when working above unprotected rebar. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

"Exposing workers to avoidable workplace hazards that can cause injury or death is unacceptable," said David Doucet, director of OSHA's Houston North Area Office. "In this case, it was fortunate that no one was hurt."

Williams Brothers, a Houston-based highway and bridge construction company that employs about 1,800 workers nationwide, has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Houston North area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Information and resources for workers and employers on fall hazards are available in English and Spanish at http://www.osha.gov/stopfalls.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742), the agency's Houston North office at 281-591-2438 or its Houston South office at 281-286-0583.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.