Construction, Enforcement and Inspection

OSHA Cites Illinois Roofer a Sixth Time

Ricardo Gallardo, a Palatine, Illinois, roofer, has been cited for the fifth and sixth time by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for fall protection violations, the agency announced December 12.

Twice within a month, federal workplace safety inspectors found that Gallardo, doing business as R&R Construction Services Inc., didn’t provide roofing employees with required fall protection, exposing them to the risk of falls from elevation, the construction industry’s leading cause of workplace deaths.

OSHA has cited Gallardo and R&R Construction Services with one willful violation and four repeat violations, proposing $275,869 in penalties.

On June 15, OSHA inspectors opened an investigation after they observed eight roofers working without fall protection at heights over 6 feet at a residential home worksite in Palos Heights. On July 18, inspectors observed crews—again without required fall protection—working atop a residential roof in Joliet.

Agency inspectors also learned the company didn’t train employees on the use of fall protection and noted the company’s failure to provide workers using pneumatic hammers with required eye protection.

“R&R Construction Services Inc. continued to show a flagrant disregard for industry-recognized fall safety requirements that protect workers from the leading cause of worker fatalities in the construction industry,” James Martineck, OSHA’s Chicago south area office director, said in an agency statement. “They need to comply with federal laws that protect workers before tragedy strikes its employees.”

Falls from height are one of the construction industry’s “fatal four” hazards, along with caught-in or -between, electrocution, and struck-by hazards. In October, OSHA revealed that the agency’s construction industry fall protection standard was its most frequently cited standard (29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §1926.501) for a 13th year, cited 7,271 times in fiscal year (FY) 2023.

Grain bin worker suffers partial leg amputation

An employee of Littlejohn Grain Inc., a Westfield, Illinois, grain company, suffered severe leg injuries on July 12, requiring a partial leg amputation. The grain bin operator now faces $115,855 in OSHA penalties for two willful violations and one serious violation, the agency announced December 12.

The incident occurred two weeks before the agency issued citations for a worker being entrapped in a grain bin for five hours in February 2023, according to OSHA. Agency investigators determined that Littlejohn Grain again violated federal safety regulations by not de-energizing and locking out an auger before allowing a worker to enter the bin. Inspectors also learned the company didn’t test the bin for oxygen content and exposed the worker to a fall hazard above dangerous equipment. 

OSHA’s lockout/tagout standard (§1910.147) is the agency’s sixth most frequently cited standard, the agency announced in October. It cited 2,554 violations in FY 2023, which ended September 30.

“Twice in less than six months, employees were endangered, one of whom suffered injuries with lifelong consequences,” Edward Marshall, OSHA’s Peoria, Illinois, area office director, said in a statement. “The grain elevator’s operator could have protected its employees by following federal and industry-recommended safety procedures.”

This fall, OSHA renewed a regional emphasis program (REP) for grain-handling facilities in Illinois, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The agency has also established partnerships with the Grain Elevator and Processing Society, Grain Handling Safety Coalition, and National Grain and Feed Association to address grain-handling hazards.

The partnerships with the grain-handling industry have identified seven steps for grain safety:    

  • Turn off and lock out equipment before entering a bin or performing maintenance.
  • Never walk down grain to make it flow.
  • Test the air in the bin before entering.
  • Use a safety harness and an anchored lifeline.
  • Place a trained observer outside the bin in case of an emergency.
  • Don’t enter a bin where grain is built up on the side. 
  • Control the accumulation of grain dust through housekeeping.

In a recent report on explosions and fires at a dry corn milling facility in Wisconsin, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) called on OSHA to develop a federal standard for industries that handle combustible dust.

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