OSHA Fines Guam Company Following Fatal Fall

August 25, 2005

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Big Light Construction for alleged safety violations following the investigation of a Feb. 22 accident in which employee Antonin Wengu fell to his death from the roof of a gas station under construction in Dededo, Guam. Proposed penalties total $147,000.

OSHA cited Big Light Construction for two alleged willful violations, with penalties of $70,000 each, for failing to provide and enforce the use of fall protection and failing to train employees exposed to fall hazards. OSHA standards require fall protection when employees are working six feet or more above ground level, as were these workers applying coating to the roof of the gas station. A willful violation is one committed with intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

OSHA also assessed a $5,000 penalty for failure to report the death. The agency was not notified of the fatality until March 8 when the state workers’ compensation program contacted OSHA regarding a claim filed by the company on the worker’s behalf. Big Light Construction’s failure to maintain a log of occupational injuries and illnesses, despite being cited by OSHA for the same violation in 2004, cost the firm an additional $2,000 in penalties. OSHA has inspected the firm four times since 1999, issuing citations following each inspection.

“The previous OSHA history with Big Light, and the facts surrounding the current inspection, indicate the employer willfully violated two key fall protection regulations,” said Frank Strasheim, regional administrator for the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. “Tragically, these violations resulted in the death of an employee.”

Big Light Construction, based in Tamuning, has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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