An employee of North Florida Shipyards Inc., a shipbuilding and repair company, drowned after an air pressure manifold struck him and knocked him into the St. Johns River at the company’s Commodores Point facility in Jacksonville, Florida.
The fatality prompted an investigation by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which found the company was exposing employees to safety hazards such as struck-by, drowning, amputation, caught-in, and electrical. North Florida Shipyards was also cited for allowing scuba divers to be unaccompanied by another diver, and failing to ensure machine guarding. The company faces $271,061 in proposed penalties.
“As this case demonstrates, it is important for employers to identify existing hazards, and follow required safety procedures to protect workers from serious injuries,” said OSHA Jacksonville Acting Area Office Director Buddy Underwood.
More than 5,000 workers were killed on the job in 2016, which translates to more than 99 deaths a week, or 14 a day, according to OSHA statistics. Falls and being struck by equipment were the top two causes of death for construction workers in 2016. Fall protection is also the No. 1 most frequently cited standard by Federal OSHA during the fiscal year 2017, which ran Oct. 1, 2016, to September 30, 2017.
Under the OSHA Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. North Florida Shipping has 15 business days to comply with the citation issued by OSHA, request a conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
OSHA News Release