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Roofing Contractor Faces Nearly $300,000 in OSHA Fines for Fall Protection Violations

Sept. 11, 2014
Gleason Roofing Co. deliberately and repeatedly failed to use legally required fall protection for its employees at two New Britain, Conn., worksites and exposed workers to potentially fatal falls, OSHA alleges.

Gleason Roofing Co. deliberately and repeatedly failed to use legally required fall protection for its employees at two New Britain, Conn., worksites and exposed workers to potentially fatal falls, OSHA alleges.

The Enfield, Conn.-based roofing contractor faces four willful and two serious violations and $294,000 in fines.

“These employees were one slip, trip or step away from deadly or disabling injuries,” said Warren Simpson, OSHA’s area director in Hartford. “Their employer knew this, yet chose to do nothing about it.”

Responding to a complaint in March, an OSHA inspector found Gleason employees exposed to 16-foot falls while ripping shingles from a roof. On April 19, an OSHA inspector returning from another inspection observed Gleason employees exposed to 10-foot falls while ripping shingles from the roof of another house, according to the agency.

Additional fall hazards at both sites occurred because ladders did not extend at least 3 feet above landings to ensure proper stability, according to OSHA.

OSHA cited Gleason for four willful violations of fall protection standards, with $280,000 in fines.

OSHA cited Gleason for two serious violations, with $14,000 in fines, for allegedly exposing workers to falls while improperly ascending ladders. Employees also faced possible electrocution from working without protection close to a working power line, according to the agency.

“Gravity doesn’t give you a second chance. If you fall and there is no effective fall protection in place, the result could end your career or your life,” said Jeffrey Erskine, OSHA’s acting deputy regional administrator for New England. “This is our message to employers: It is imperative that you plan ahead to get the job done safely, provide your employees with the right equipment and train them to use it properly. It is your responsibility.”

Falls are the most dangerous hazard in construction work, responsible for the deaths of three Connecticut workers in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Simpson asserted that “falls are among the most preventable hazards, but only if employers supply and ensure the use of fall protection.”

Gleason has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply or contest OSHA’s findings.

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