Two Chicago area construction companies are facing a total of $112,000 in fines proposed by the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) following a May inspection that indicated willful violations of federal workplace safety regulations designed to prevent serious injuries or fatalities caused by falls, the agency announced today.
The OSHA investigation at the construction site of the multi-million dollar University of Illinois – Chicago Recreation Center Project was initiated by OSHA’s Calumet City, Ill., area office as part of a local emphasis program on fall protection.
Once on-site, investigators reportedly found two sub-contractors allowing workers to be exposed to potential falls of approximately 50 feet from the edge of the worksite to the ground below. OSHA issued one willful citation each to Area Construction Trades Inc. Aurora, Ill., for $42,000 and to Area Erectors Inc. Wheeling, Ill., for $70,000.
“These companies failed to protect their workers,” said OSHA Area Director Gary Anderson, Calumet City. “Falls are a leading cause of workplace fatalities, and the sizeable amount of construction activity in the Chicago area means that contractors and sub-contractors must do all in their power to protect their employees from such tragedies.”
OSHA has inspected Area Construction Trades worksites four times in the past three years including investigations into falls where an employee became paralyzed from the chest down in 2003 and a fatal fall in 2002. The company, which provides metal decking services for its customers, has received two repeat and two serious citations for lack of fall protection as a result of those previous inspections.
OSHA has inspected Area Erectors worksites 14 times since January 2002 with citations issued for fall protection violations in three of those inspections. The Wheeling company, headquartered in Rockford, Ill., performs steel erection and pre-cast concrete erection services.
Both businesses have 15 working days to appeal the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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