Cal/OSHA cites Bay Area contractor following accident that crushed worker

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Cal/OSHA inspectors at work (Cal/OSHA website)

Cal/OSHA has cited a Bay Area contractor for serious safety violations after a worker was fatally crushed at a San Rafael construction site on Sept. 18, 2018. Investigators determined that West Coast Land and Development, Inc. did not follow regulations when it stacked plywood vertically without securing it.

The accident occurred when two employees of the Concord company were framing and installing a shear wall on the third floor of a house under construction. One worker went to get a sheet of plywood from a stack of 26 panels stacked vertically and leaning against a wall. A foreman found the worker’s body 20 minutes later with the stack of plywood on top of him.

“Unsecured plywood, drywall and similar material stacked vertically create life threatening hazards to employees,” said Cal/OSHA chief Juliann Sum. “As this tragic incident demonstrates, employers should store the materials flat or ensure the materials are secured when stored vertically to prevent serious and even fatal injuries.”

Cal/OSHA cited West Coast Land and Development $26,540 for eight violations. In addition to the serious accident-related violation for stacking plywood sheets vertically without securing the sheets against tipping or falling, serious citations were issued for the employer’s failure to:

  • Guard an opening on the house’s second floor to prevent employees falling through it;
  • Protect workers from the hazard of impalement on exposed reinforcing steel projections; and
  • Protect workers from falling when working on elevated surfaces at heights more than 15 feet.

A regulatory violation was cited for failing to obtain the required construction-related
project permit, and general violations were cited for failing to evaluate worksite hazards
and protect workers from loose rock or soil at an excavation site, and failure to provide
handrails and stair rails along unprotected sides and edges of stairways.

A serious violation is cited when there is a realistic possibility that death or serious harm
could result from the actual hazardous condition. Violations are classified as accident-related when the injury, illness or fatality is caused by the violation.

Cal/OSHA offers extensive information and resources on working safely in the construction industry, including hazard identification, hazard correction, and establishing and implementing an effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program.

All employers in California are required to have an effective written injury and illness prevention program, a safety program to identify, assess and control hazards in the workplace. Cal/OSHA has online tools and publications to guide employers on how to establish an effective safety program. Cal/OSHA’s resources on fall protection include
safety and health factsheets, residential fall protection training and a construction safety
pocket guide.

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