Improper Fall Protection May Cost West Virginia Contractor $109k

It looks like 2015 is a big year for negligent construction companies, as yet another large OSHA fine has surfaced. K&F Construction, a construction company working out of West Virginia, has been penalized for several violations of OSHA standards. The inspection of the Morgantown work site was conducted September last year, with the violations coming to a head earlier this month.

Among the violations were improper fall protection, improper eye protection during operation of a nail gun, and (the most serious and costly violation) using a forklift to support scaffolding.  No news has surfaced yet as to the company’s plan to accept or fight the findings, but the $109k fine looms regardless.

It’s quite obvious that equipment (i.e. the forklift) should never, ever be used for anything besides its intended purpose; some of the other violations may seem innocuous in comparison. When we take the time to isolate these instances, however, it becomes clear that each individual violation is just as serious as the last, and all pose a threat to the safety and health of those workers involved:

– Protecting your eyes is just as important as protecting the rest of your body, especially when using tools like nail guns and saws. Tools that are used to cut and pierce may cause fragmentation of materials or can injure workers directly; protecting your eyes from wood and metal shrapnel can be the difference between going home and going to the hospital.

– Fall protection is something OSHA pushes a lot, and that’s because falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. Workers exposed to heights without proper protection like railings, stable structures, and well-placed ladders can be seriously or fatally injured. Overlooking protection techniques, no matter how small they might seem, could lead to fatalities in the workplace. Employees put their safety on the line to work on projects, and keeping them as safe as possible is our most important responsibility.

– The reckless use of the forklift is the biggest culprit in the K&F fine, and illustrates something that many companies do all too frequently. When the right tool for the job isn’t available, or there isn’t time to fix something due to deadlines, companies often go the route of “ingenuity,” trading safety for convenience and efficiency in the process. They might stuff something under the leg of a ladder if the foot is broken or use boxes to hold up platforms. Though these things may seem like good substitutes, equipment poses an immediate threat when it’s being used for something outside of its main function. When it comes to safety, don’t think exclusively about customer deadlines. Get the right tools for the job and do right by your employees. Doing a job safely is more important than doing it quickly.

Effective safety practices are vital for the successful safety management of your business. Of course it’s nice to avoid a $100k fine that could put your business in the red, but your first duty is assuring that everything is in place for proper inspections and your employees end their workday injury-free.

Learn more about how you can keep your workplace injury (and violation) free at Field iD’s website.

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