Roofing contractor cited after Honolulu fatal fall

Published On: Feb 13 2014 11:01:13 AM HST
Updated On: Feb 13 2014 04:05:45 PM HST
Construction worker falls to death


HONOLULU -

The Hawaii State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations' Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Division announced Thursday that it has issued citations to Color Dynamics, Inc. for exposing workers to falls and electrical hazards.

The investigation was triggered on Sept. 11, when an employee fell approximately 50 feet and sustained fatal injuries.  Color Dynamics, Inc. will have an opportunity to contest the citations.

Color Dynamics responded to the allegations by saying it has sound bases for contesting all of the violations.  The company says the allegations have nothing to do with the employee falling to his death five months ago.

The safety violations were related to work on a flat roof 50 feet above the ground during September 2013.  Employees were not adequately protected from falls while working at elevated locations, according to HIOSH.

Contrary to the HIOSH standards, Color Dynamics, Inc. did not provide guardrails or nets and did not enforce the use of or provide personal fall arrest systems in good condition in all elevated work locations, according to state safety officials.  HIOSH standards require the use of guardrail systems, safety net systems or personal fall arrest systems for work 6 feet or more above the surface.  Employees also were not trained in the methods they could use to protect themselves from a fall, according to HIOSH.

Color Dynamics says the HIOSH administrator ignores the company's accident prevention and investigation procedures.  The company also says the administrator overlooks the state-of-the-art fall protection that the company trained all employees about for several hours each year.  The training included all relevant resources published by HIOSH and the General Contractors Association of Hawaii, as well as lengthy in-person instruction provided at Honolulu Community College.

As a result, Color Dynamics, Inc. was cited for two serious violations for deficiencies in the company safety program, four serious violations for failing to provide adequate fall protection to employees working in elevated locations, two serious violations for failing to give and document adequate fall protection training, and one serious violation for failing to ground electrical power cords.  A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known about.

In addition, an other-than-serious citation was issued because Color Dynamics did not provide water for its employees on the job site, according to safety officials.  Other-than-serious violations are those in which injuries are expected to be treatable by first aid measures.

In a statement by David Onerheim, the president of Color Dynamics, Inc., said, "The administrator and other inexperienced bureaucrats responsible for the unfounded allegations dwell on the condition of ropes and electrical cords not in use and in storage, as well as insist on signatures that were not required. They suggest without any basis that each employee must carry his/her own water bottle constantly, rather than use the restroom and faucets available for them to use."

Penalties for the two citations totaled $63,250.

"The former employee inexplicably fell to his death from an area not controlled by the company, where he was not supposed to be working or walking, after receiving extensive training to carefully avoid the very hazard involved. The unsupported implications that anything the company did or did not do contributed to his death, or that the HIOSH allegations suggest that it might have, are false and defamatory," said Onerheim.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call HIOSH at (808) 586-9116.

Under the Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Law of 1972, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. HIOSH's role is to ensure these conditions for Hawaii’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://labor.hawaii.gov/hiosh.

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