The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently issued citations for seven violations to Burbank-based contractor, JW Construction and Plastering Inc., following an August 25, 2016 inspection of an Evanston, Illinois home remodeling worksite. Among those citations processed were two willful, two repeated, and three serious violations involving various hazardous communications protocol, exposure to respirable silica dust as well as fall-protection. The company faces $80,741 in proposed penalties.
The agency investigation showed that JW Construction and Plastering failed to provide employees with adequate fall-protection and also exposed workers to respirable silica during cement and stucco work, a clear violation of OSHA hazwoper protocol. The company was cited for similar violations in 2014. Hazardous communications and material identification are critical to proper safety precaustions.
OSHA found the following violations, among others, to be extant at the work site:
- Failure to develop or implement a written hazardous communications program
- Failure to maintain copies of required data safety sheets for each hazardous chemical in the workplace
- Failure to provide effective information and training on hazardous materials
- Failure to ensure that employees wore appropriate hand or skin protection while dealing with stucco application
- Failure to ensure that employees wore safety glasses with side shields while dealing with stucco and Portland cement application
- Failure to provide fall-protection for employees working on the front-porch roof
- Failure to ensure that fabricated-frame scaffolding was fully planked
OSHA Chicago North area director, Angeline Loftus, said, “Preventable falls account for nearly 40 percent of all deaths in the construction industry and silica presents a health hazard that can cause irreversible lung damage, that can lead to long-term health concerns. OSHA is committed to protecting construction workers from unnecessary illness, injuries, or worse.”
Among the various offenses presented in this case, the most insidious is that of chemical exposure, namely silica respiration. Because the effects of chemical exposure are gradual and often delayed in their symptoms, the prevention of undue chemical exposure must be mitigated by vigilant compliance with health and safety standards. In the case of the aforementioned violations, exposure to silica could have easily been avoided. This and other citations show a safety protocol that is lacking in hazardous communications protocol. One resource that safety leaders can utilize to ensure the safety of their employees is an OSHA-approved HAZWOPER training course.