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Portland contractor fined for not protecting workers against fall hazards

For immediate release
June 18, 2020

Contact information

Aaron Corvin, Public Information Officer
971-718-6973, aaron.corvin@oregon.gov


Salem, OR — Oregon OSHA has fined a Portland contractor more than $17,000 for multiple serious violations – one of them a repeat offense – that included exposing workers to potential fall hazards that could kill them.

The division cited Oregon Chimney Repair and Cleaning Inc. following an inspection of a masonry job the company was carrying out on a multi-story house in Portland. Employees were working on a chimney using a scaffold.

In one violation, the company did not provide personal fall arrest or guardrail systems, exposing five employees to falls of up to 19 feet. In another, the company failed to follow a requirement to implement fall protection where workers are exposed to falling six feet or more to a lower level.

The failure to heed Oregon OSHA's six-foot trigger-height requirements was a repeat violation by the company, subjecting two workers to a fall of just over 11 feet. Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry.

“Our fall protection requirements are designed to prevent serious injury or death, and they have proven effective at protecting workers," said Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood. “To overlook them is unacceptable, and only serves to put lives at needless risk."

Inspection photo

The citation against Oregon Chimney Repair and Cleaning Inc. proposes a total fine of $17,280. It includes three serious violations that were grouped – for a total penalty of $5,000 – because they involved related hazards.

Those violations included:

  • The employer did not ensure that employees working from a scaffold were protected by personal fall arrest systems or proper guardrail systems.
  • Each platform on all working levels of the scaffold was not fully planked or decked. A worker who was stationed on a level that had only one section of decking in place was exposed to a fall of about 19 feet.
  • The employer allowed workers to climb up and down the framework of the fabricated scaffold – as opposed to using a ladder or lift – exposing four of them to falls of up to 19 feet.

The other violations were:

  • Workers were exposed to potential electrocution as they built and worked on the scaffold, which came into contact with uninsulated electrical cables. Proposed penalty: $2,400.
  • The company failed to ensure the aluminum extension ladder used by employees included nonconductive side-rails. The ladder was near uninsulated electrical cables, exposing workers to potential electrocution. Proposed penalty: $2,400.
  • The company allowed a multi-purpose ladder to be used on an unstable surface, subjecting a worker to potentially falling about four feet to a pitched roof. Proposed penalty: $280.
  • Workers were exposed to falls of up to 19 feet because the scaffold's supports lacked a firm foundation. The system was built on an ornamental plant bed. No mudsills were installed under its baseplates. Proposed penalty: $2,400.
  • The company exposed workers to a fall of just over 11 feet by failing to implement fall protection where workers are exposed to falling six feet or more to a lower level. This was a repeat of a violation on a separate citation issued to the company in March 2017. Proposed penalty: $4,800.

Under Oregon OSHA rules, penalties multiply when employers commit repeat violations. The citation issued against Oregon Chimney Repair and Cleaning Inc. includes a standard penalty reduction based on the small size of the company.

In addition to its enforcement activities, Oregon OSHA offers employers resources to help improve workplace safety and health. These resources include the division's Fundamentals of Fall Protection online video training and its A-to-Z topic page about fall protection.

Learn more about help provided by Oregon OSHA's consultation services, technical staff, and additional education and training services.


 

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About Oregon OSHA:

Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state's workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, go to osha.oregon.gov.

The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon's largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to www.oregon.gov/dcbs/.

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