5 Nov 2013
On May 28, 2013, OSHA cited Massachusetts contractor Twin Pines Construction Inc. for alleged willful, repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards at its Durham, NH, work site. The wood framing contractor, based in Everett, Mass., faces a total of $290,700 in proposed fines following an inspection by OSHA’s Concord Area Office.
Workers performing framing work were found exposed to falls ranging from 9 feet up to 30 feet due to missing or inadequate fall protection safeguards.
OSHA standards require that employees working 6 feet or more above a lower level be protected against falls by personal fall arrest systems, guardrails or safety nets.
Additional fall hazards stemmed from ladder misuse and personal fall arrest systems that could allow workers to fall more than 6 feet and strike lower levels.
As a result, three willful citations were issued with $200,500 in fines. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
“The sizable penalties proposed here reflect the gravity and recurring nature of these hazards, plus this employer’s knowledge of and refusal to correct them,” said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA’s New Hampshire area director. “This is unacceptable. Falls remain the number one killer in construction work, having cost the lives of 264 workers in 2010. Employers who fail to supply and ensure the use of proper and effective fall protection safeguards are gambling with the lives and well-being of their employees.”
Four repeat citations, with $75,900 in fines, are for hazards similar to those cited in 2009 and 2011 at work sites in Boston, Lakeville, Lexington, New Bedford and Newbury, Mass., and in Portsmouth. These hazards include lack of fall protection training, no eye protection for workers using pneumatic nail guns, ungrounded electrical cords and missing handrails. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.
Finally, Twin Pines was issued three serious citations, with $14,300 in fines, for wood and metal trusses inadequately braced during installation, missing fire extinguishers and no protection from falling objects. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
“All employers must plan ahead to identify fall hazards and use the proper type of fall protection, provide proper and properly maintained equipment and train workers to protect themselves against fall hazards,” said Ohar.