July 27, 2016 Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH 0Comment

Kevin Purpura’s work-related death could have been prevented. That’s how I see OSHA’s findings in the agency’s recent citations against Woda Construction and Sandow Development (here and here.)

The 39 year-old was working in January 2016 at a loft-style apartment redevelopment project in Wheeling, WV. The initial press reports indicated that Purpura was:

  • “inspecting metal studding surrounding an elevator shaft” when he fell several stories to his death.

I wrote about the incident shortly after it occurred.

The (Wheeling, WV) Intelligencer reported that the project developer was the Woda Group of Westerville, Ohio.  Sandow Development wasthe general contractor for the project.

OSHA completed its post-fatality inspection and recently issued citations to both Woda Construction and Sandow Development. Each firm was cited for one serious violation related to failing to guard against a fatal fall. Specifically, they violated 1926.501(b)(4)(i):

“Each employee on walking/working surfaces shall be protected from falling through holes (including skylights) more than 6 feet (1.8 m) above lower levels, by personal fall arrest systems, covers, or guardrail systems erected around such holes.”

The penalty proposed against Woda Construction is $7,000.

In addition to the fall protection violations, Sandow Development was cited for injury recording requirements and failing to comply with chemical hazard communication rules. The penalty proposed against the firm is $8,600.

When some local press initially reported Kevin Purpura’s death, they called it an accident. An “accident” suggests the circumstances were unforeseen or could not have been avoided. OSHA’s findings tell a different story. Call it cutting corners, call it poor management, call it breaking the law. Whatever you want to call it, Purpura’s work-related death could have been prevented, it was no accident.

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