OSHA cited Peabody Construction Co. of Braintree, Mass., and A.J. Desjardins Roofing Co. of Exeter, N.H., for exposing employees to serious fall hazards at a Holliston, Mass., worksite. The alleged violations carry combined proposed penalties totaling $108,400.
In January, OSHA was informed by Holliston town officials that contractors doing roofing work on buildings at Holliston High School were not taking appropriate safety precautions.
OSHA initiated its inspection of the site on Jan. 12, 2001, and discovered that employees of both companies were being exposed to falls of 13 feet from unprotected building roofs.
Both companies have significant previous OSHA inspection histories and both have been cited in the past for exposing employees to fall hazards.
"It is simply inexcusable to once again find these employers exposing their workers to potentially fatal falls when they are quite obviously aware of the fall protection requirements of the law. Since they again decided on this project to ignore those requirements, we are citing both employers for willful violations of the law," said Richard Fazzio, OSHA''s area director for Northeastern Massachusetts.
A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.
Peabody Construction Co. is being cited for one alleged willful violation for exposing two carpenters to falls of 13 feet while they were working on a roof with unprotected sides and no fall protection equipment being used. OSHA is proposing a penalty of $63,000 for this violation.
A.J. Desjardins Roofing Co. is being cited for one alleged willful violation for failure to provide fall protection of any sort to five employees engaged in roofing work on a roof 13 feet high. A fine of $28,000 is proposed for this alleged violation.
OSHA has also cited Peabody Construction for one alleged repeat violation for allowing employees to work on elevated surfaces with uncovered holes into which they could accidentally step.
The employer had been cited twice in 1999 for similar violations. A repeat violation is defined by OSHA as one where, upon reinspection, a substantially similar violation is found. In this instance, the proposed penalty is $14,000.
A.J. Desjardins is also being cited for two alleged serious violations carrying proposed penalties totaling $3,400. These are for allowing employees to work on a surface with uncovered holes and for failure to provide safe access from one roof surface to another.
OSHA defines a serious violation as one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
by Virginia Sutcliffe