The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited three building contractors relating to a Sept. 16, 2003, fatal accident at a construction site in Huntsville, Ala.

OSHA cited general contractor Bowen Construction Services Inc. of Roswell, Ga., with one alleged serious violation and proposed a penalty of $4,900 for failing to assure that workers were protected from fall hazards. As the general contractor, Bowen was responsible for overall safety at the Huntsville site.

OSHA also cited Kentucky Steel Erectors LLC, of London, Ky., whose employees were installing metal decking at the site, for one alleged willful violation and proposed a penalty of $56,000. Among the alleged violations was a failure to provide adequate fall protective equipment, such as body harnesses or lanyards. The company also was cited for failing to provide safe access to and exit from the roof.

The third contractor, Brinley & Sons Commercial Interiors Inc. of Langston, Ala., was cited for improperly using a forklift to lift workers to the roof structure on a platform that was not secured. The proposed penalty is $3,000.

On the day of the accident, workers were installing metal decking on the roof of a building under construction. Two carrying a sheet of decking were walking along a 5-inch-wide truss. No fall protection systems were in place. One worker, walking backward, stepped off the truss, falling 21 feet to the ground below.

"This accident was preventable and the results were tragic," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's Birmingham area director. "The contractors knew how to prevent the fall hazards, but they did not take adequate precautions."

The companies have the right to contest the OSHA citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Publication date: 04/12/2004