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Federal safety investigation into fall at Rochester high school could take up to six months

Union Leader Correspondent

August 11. 2014 9:28PM
A man who was painting the trim at Spaulding High School in Rochester sustained serious injuries after falling about one story Friday afternoon. He was using this hydraulic lift to get to the single-story roof. (Courtesy)

ROCHESTER — As a painter recovers from serious injuries at a Maine hospital, members of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration warn area businesses about the dangers of falls at the workplace.

The painter — who was working for a subcontractor on the outside trim at Spaulding High School —fell from the roof of a one-story area while working with a hydraulic lift outside the two-story school at 150 Wakefield St. Friday afternoon.

The man, whose identity was not released, sustained serious injuries and was sent to Frisbie Memorial Hospital, but was later flown by helicopter to Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine.

As of Monday, police continue to seek an update about the man’s condition, which remains unknown, according to Sgt. Patrick Emerson.

As the accident occurred at a worksite, police contacted members of OSHA, which responded to the scene to investigate the matter Friday.

It’s too soon to determine what led to the fall, whether there was any negligence or if any violations are warranted, according to Rose Ohar, area director for OSHA in NH.

“It’s still an ongoing investigation for us and we’re still actively working at the scene,” Ohar said, adding investigations could take up to six months if officials plan to issue a citation.

Ohar said investigators, who will work with local authorities, will check to see whether OSHA standards were met, whether there were any contributing factors or if there are any other safety violations at the site.

As falls are one of the leading causes of fatalities at the workplace, OSHA stresses safety through its regional offices as part of an ongoing a national program, according to Ohar.

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