OSHA Cites Colo. Firm for Alleged Safety Violations

August 28, 2005

The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited NE Colorado Cellular Inc., Fort Morgan, Colo., doing business as Viaero Wireless, for unsafe working conditions, following a fatal accident at a communications tower. Proposed penalties total $115,500.

One worker fell more than 180 feet and was killed Feb. 25 during the installation of cellular phone antennas on a tower located west of Yuma, Colo. “This accident could have been avoided by following recognized safe work practices for climbing communication towers,” said Herb Gibson, OSHA area director in Denver.

Citations issued against Viaero Wireless by OSHA’s Denver area office alleged one serious and two willful violations of OSHA standards. The willful violations, with proposed penalties of $112, 000, involve improper use of a hoist for lifting personnel up the tower, lack of fall protection and failing to remove a defective snap hook from service. Additional penalties of $3,500 were proposed for lack of fall protection training.

“Strong enforcement, when necessary, is a key part of OSHA’s efforts to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses,” said Greg Baxter, OSHA regional administrator in Denver. “There is no excuse for failing to provide adequate protection against falls, one of the leading causes of worker injuries and deaths.”

Willful violations are those committed with intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The employer has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to request an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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