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Judge affirms fall-hazard citation following fatality

A construction company that failed to provide fall protection on several occasions, one resulting in the death of a worker who fell 22 feet while building homes in St. Petersburg, Florida, must pay a $101,399 fine, an administrative law judge with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission ruled Thursday.

The ruling affirmed a serious, willful violation of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s fall protection standard by the Tampa, Florida-based construction company Edwin Taylor Corp., which was investigated after the November 2016 fatality, according to documents in Secretary of Labor v. Edwin Taylor Corp.

Following an investigation, the secretary proposed a penalty of $126,749, naming in the citation three instances when workers were not protected by adequate fall protection, according to documents.

The judge, finding that OSHA had adequately proved violations occurred, reduced the fine by 20%, writing: “After the accident, Respondent recognized its failings and took steps to prioritize safety... For example, a dedicated person starting to specifically focus on safety violations in the photographs routinely sent to supervisors… Respondent also required additional training and inspections.”

“As for the other penalty factors… While Respondent had elements of a safety program and showed some evidence of enforcing aspects of it, in the context of fall protection, it cannot be considered an effective program,” the judge wrote. “Supervisors knew the requirements but failed to address hazards. …Multiple supervisors knew or could have known of the hazard and yet failed to act.”

Officials with Edwin Taylor and the company’s attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.