Construction Worker's Fatal Fall Was Preventable: Officials

A Wolcott roofing company is facing more than $40,000 in fines following the death of a worker in Watertown over the summer, which could have been prevented with the proper safeguards, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that a 28-year-old M&M Roofing employee was wearing a safety harness but was not properly anchored when he fell 18 feet to his death while removing roof shingles in Watertown on July 12.

“Being tied to an independent anchorage point is a critical element of fall protection. Otherwise, there is nothing to stop a worker from falling and suffering a fatal or disabling injury,” said OSHA area director Warren Simpson, in a statement on Thursday.

According to the Department of Labor, M&M Roofing was cited three times in 2011 for similar hazards at work sites in Enfield, Wolcott and Manchester.

After the most recent inspection following the Watertown death, the company was cited with a “repeat violation” for failure to provide workers with fall protection, along with two “serious violations” for an unguarded skylight and allowing employees to work too close to a charged power line, DOL officials said.

A repeat violation means the company has been cited multiple times over the past five years, while a serious violation means there is a “substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known,” according to the DOL.

M&M Roofing has been fined $40,600 and must meet with OSHA representatives within 15 days.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, falls are the leading cause of worksite deaths. Three Connecticut workers fell to their deaths in 2012.

More information on fall prevention is available online.

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