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OSHA completes probe into window washer's workplace injury

Following up on a blog post from December 30 about a window washer who miraculously survived an 11-story fall ("Workplace injury brings hardship for window washer, family"), the California Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health has completed its investigation into the workplace accident. This incident occurred on November 21, 2014. Cal/OSHA determined that the window cleaning company was responsible for this man's catastrophic workplace injury and proposed $12,765 in penalties relating to five safety violations.

During the investigation, it was determined that the window washer was not on the suspended scaffold at the time of the incident. He was apparently on the roof of the building, busy moving the extension cord around a corner of the building. To achieve this, he detached his fall protection's lanyard, and, when he moved toward the edge of the roof, he lost his footing and plunged to the ground. A moving car broke his fall, and he survived -- although he was severely injured -- and has still not fully recovered. The driver of the car on which the window washer fell also miraculously survived the incident.

Cal/OSHA found that the window cleaning company failed to install guard rails as fall protection on the roof. Another violation related to the company's failure to provide adequate training concerning the correct manner in which personal fall protection equipment must be used. It was revealed that the company had also been cited in 2008 and, at that time, had to pay $2,720 penalties for four safety violations.

There is nothing that can justify employers sending employees to work in hazardous conditions that can be potentially life threatening. This window washer and his family continue to face numerous stumbling blocks, many months after his workplace injury. Fortunately, the California workers' compensation insurance fund provides monetary relief in the form of benefits to cover medical expenses and a percentage of lost wages. 

Source: CBS San Francisco, "Cal/OSHA Faults Employer In Window Washer's Fall In Downtown San Francisco", May 20, 2015

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