A construction company faces $121,000 in federal fines for failing to protect workers from falls on the roof of a shopping center. The company’s troubles began when an inspector from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) saw roofers working on a pitched roof without protective systems, even though they were more than 14 feet in the air. Other workers had harnesses that were not properly attached.
OSHA issued a willful citation, which means it believed the company committed the violation with an intentional disregard for the law or was indifferent to employee safety. In this case, the violations were serious for several reasons. First, falls are a leading cause of death in the construction industry, making it critical for workers to have protection on the job. Second, some of the workers in this case spoke limited English. These workers may not understand safety rules, making them more vulnerable to serious injury.
In a news release about the citations, OSHA officials noted a third reason the violations were serious. The company was a repeat offender. On previous occasions, the company had also been cited for allowing workers to use pneumatic nail guns without protection, lack of training for fall protection and violations for ladders.
Because of these violations, OSHA placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which allows OSHA to inspect any of the company’s job sites if it has grounds to believe that violations have occurred.
The construction industry is dangerous enough when companies do not repeatedly flout the law. Construction companies and others who contribute to dangerous work environments need to be held accountable for their misdeeds, whether accountability comes from an OSHA inspection or a legal claim.
Source: Source: Occupational Safety and Health Act, “US Department of Labor’s OSHA cites roofing contractor KG Framing and Construction for lack of fall protection at St. Louis job site,” April 18, 2013
- Our law firm represents clients who have been injured in New York construction accidents. For more information, visit our page on falls from heights.