Contractor Faces $308,000 in Fines for Fall Hazards

Tuesday, November 10, 2009
New Place Carpentry, a New Haven, Conn., contractor faces a total of $308,500 in new fines from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for willful and repeat fall hazards following the agency's inspections at worksites in Plymouth and Methuen, Mass.

The contractor, which primarily performs residential framing work, has been cited by OSHA eight times since July 2003. Fines from earlier investigations total $171,700 for failing to provide fall protection and other required safeguards for workers at jobsites in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

"The sizable fines proposed here reflect the gravity of these hazards and this employer's ongoing refusal to comply with basic, commonsense and legally required protections for its workers," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's New England regional administrator. "Falls remain the number one killer in construction work. Employers who repeatedly fail to provide and ensure fall protection continue to place their workers' lives at needless risk."

Both of the latest inspections found workers engaged in residential construction work at heights greater than six feet without any form of fall protection. In addition, workers at the Plymouth site were working on unguarded, inadequately constructed and uninspected scaffolds, and were not trained to recognize scaffold hazards, while workers at the Methuen site were installing roof trusses without fall protection, lacked fall protection training and accessed an upper work surface via a ladder that did not extend above the surface for required stability.

Additional hazards identified at the jobsites include gasoline-powered equipment left running while being refueled, power tools lowered to the ground by their cords, untrained fork truck operators, no fire extinguishers, debris with protruding nails in work areas, no hardhats where overhead hazards were present and no eye protection for workers using nail guns.

All told, based on the recent inspections, New Place Carpentry has been issued one willful, six repeat and 13 serious citations. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health, while serious citations are issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspections were conducted by OSHA's Braintree and Andover, Mass., area offices.
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