Construction workers caught violating safety rules at sites in N - WSMV News 4

Construction workers caught violating safety rules at sites in Nashville

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They work in dangerous jobs high above the city and on the ground. That's why what you're about to see is troubling.

The News4 I-Team's Lindsay Bramson started watching construction sites after learning 12 construction workers have died in the past two years. 

What we caught happening on camera has caught the State's attention, too.

Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA) Assistant Commissioner Steve Hawkins was certainly concerned -- and he says what the News4 I-Team captured shows workers putting themselves in dangerous situations that could cost them their lives.

The News4 I-Team watched as two workers, 30 feet in the air, walked around without being strapped to anything.

Hawkins says both men working on this site at 11th and Charlotte Avenue should have been wearing harnesses. 

“Clearly these workers do not have adequate fall protection for what they're doing. What would happen if one of your inspectors saw this? If one of our investigators witnessed this, they would initiate an inspection immediately,” Hawkins explains.

News4 cameras also caught a man TOSHA believes is a supervisor standing near the edge of the building at a construction site in Green Hills off of Crestmoor Drive -- also without proper fall protection.

“He should either have on a harness or there should be guardrails in front of him," Hawkins said. "He doesn't appear to have on a harness, so it would be a violation of our standards, yes,” 

This site in Green Hills is already under investigation after a man fell and hurt himself last month.

“We have concerns that the employer at this site, that gentleman's employer, is not taking these requirements seriously,” Hawkins said.

While we did find some sites where workers were clearly following the law, we wanted to know if the State is doing enough so that more workers are protected.

"TOSHA is an oversight agency.  We do training [and] consultations, but, at the end of the day, it's the employer’s responsibility to provide the safe workplace,” Hawkins said.

In the last two years, 12 people have died in Nashville from construction-related accidents. 235 citations have been given out to companies just this past year.

As we first told you last week, a man died in June after falling off the roof of a house in South Nashville. 

His brother, Hermenegildo Dominguez, says Tennessee needs to take more responsibility for what’s happening. 

Many workers, Dominguez says, are afraid to speak up -- his brother included.

"We do get scared," Dominguez said. "There's mainly the fear we lose our jobs or something else that can go wrong -- so we do have fear to speak up. I don't think the state is doing enough to be able to help out.” 

But the state disagrees. Hawkins says it's not their job to keep people safe.

"It’s incumbent upon the [employer] to train each one of these workers on how to properly use this equipment, when to apply it, how to inspect it, and how to use it,” Hawkins said.

But will TOSHA go out and hold some of these contractors accountable after what we showed them?

Hawkins says he can't go out and issue a citation based on just video. By state law, his inspectors have to witness these incidents themselves.

Right now, TOSHA has 59 inspectors inspecting sites across all of Tennessee. 

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