Following false claims that they had corrected OSHA violations, Timberline Hardwood Floors must pay $166,265 in penalties.
An administrative law judge with the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission ruled against the company for willfully violating numerous standards.
Richard Mendelson, New York regional administrator, commented in a statement, "Employers have a duty to take effective actions to correct hazards and prevent their recurrence, and provide truthful information as to hazard abatement."
In 2012, the agency cited Timberline's predecessor entity, Timberline Hardwood Dimensions Inc., for failing to train forklift operators adequately, and develop and implement lockout/tagout, hearing conservation and chemical hazard communication programs at the Fulton, New York, plant. At that time, Thomas Vavra, a co-owner of both the predecessor and the current company, signed abatement certifications declaring the company had corrected those violations.
In 2018, an OSHA inspection found the company had not corrected the violations and the abatement claim was false. OSHA cited Timberline Hardwood Floors LLC for willful violations for those uncorrected hazards.
Timberline contested the citations to the review commission. The judge issued a decision on July 9, 2020, affirming each of the willful citations, and seven serious citations from the 2018 inspection for violations including a locked emergency exit, unguarded machines and several electrical hazards.
"The U.S. Department of Labor pursues appropriate legal actions to ensure that employers comply with the law, including when they refuse to correct workplace hazards that expose their employees to potentially fatal or disabling injuries," said Regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey S. Rogoff in New York.
OSHA's Syracuse Area Office conducted the inspection. Senior Trial Attorney Susan Jacobs of the regional Office of the Solicitor in New York litigated the case for OSHA.