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OSHA fines Maryland company over heat-related fatality

Autumn has (finally) arrived, with cooler temperatures. But the brutal heat of the summer has scarcely been forgotten - especially for the family of a man killed on the job in a heat-related incident last summer in Washington, D.C.

The man worked for a paving company based in Clarksburg, Maryland. He was paving a parking lot in June when he suffered heat stress. The man died after being taken to a hospital.

The Baltimore / Washington office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed $6,900 in fines against the company. The fines are for what OSHA alleges was a serious violation of the agency's "general duty" clause. That clause imposes a duty on employers to take reasonable steps to safeguard the health and safety of employees.

The acting director of OSHA's Baltimore / Washington office, Robert Szymanski, argues that the case should remind employers of how important it is to protect workers from heat-related harm.

"This tragedy underscores the need for employers to ensure that workers have frequent access to water, rest, and shade to prevent heat illness and injuries during the hot summer months, and also why it is important that workers are trained to recognize and respond to the signs of heat-related illness," Szymanski said.

On the work site in question, employees' duties involved pouring hot asphalt under an unfiltered sun. Yet the company did not have an established work / rest schedule set up. The company also failed to train employees in how to recognize indications of heat-related health problems.

Further, the company did not make sure employees drank enough water. It also failed to report the fatality to OSHA in a timely manner.

Source: "OSHA Cites Paving Company in Heat Fatality," OHSonline, 10-10-12

Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post. To learn more about our practice, please visit our Maryland workers' compensation page.

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