OSHA Cites Mass. Firms for Alleged Fall Hazards

Dec. 19, 2006
OSHA cited and fined two Massachusetts contractors for allegedly exposing their employees to fall hazards.

Shawnlee Construction LLC, a Plainville, Mass., wood framing contractor, faces $164,000 in OSHA fines for allegedly exposing employees to fall hazards at residential construction projects in Newton and Danvers, Mass. OSHA also issued $43,000 in proposed fines to Alexandria, Va.-based Avalon Bay Communities, the developer, project manager and general contractor for both projects.

Meanwhile, Miranda Construction, a Fall River, Mass., contractor, faces $40,000 in proposed fines for allegedly exposing employees to serious fall hazards at a Newport, R.I., residential construction site.

"Falls are the No. 1 killer in construction," said Francis Pagliuca, OSHA's area director for Middlesex and Essex counties. "Workers' lives are needlessly placed at risk when effective fall protection is absent. While it's fortunate that no one was killed at these worksites, the potential for death or disabling injuries was real and present."

Shawnlee Received Two Repeat Citations

According to OSHA, agency inspections in June and August found Shawnlee employees at Avalon Bay at Chestnut Hill in Newton, Mass., working at heights up to 33 feet without fall protection and employees at Avalon Bay at Danvers working without fall protection at heights up to 22 feet.

OSHA issued two repeat citations to Shawnlee for the alleged fall hazards in Newton and Danvers because the agency had cited the company in 2004 and 2005 for fall hazards at jobsites in Andover and Charlton, Mass. The agency issued an additional repeat citation for allegedly exposing employees to overhead hazards at the Newton site, because the company was cited in 2005 for similar hazards at jobsites in Hudson, Mass., and Mt. Kisco, N.Y. Proposed fines for the repeat citations total $140,000.

Seven serious citations, carrying $24,000 in proposed fines, were issued to Shawnlee for uncovered floor holes at the Danvers worksite and for alleged electrical, fire extinguisher, guardrail, debris, stairway and additional fall protection hazards at the Newton site.

For Avalon Bay Communities, OSHA issued one repeat and five serious citations for alleged fall, electrical, stairway, debris, fire extinguisher and lighting hazards at the Newton jobsite.

Miranda Hit with Willful Citation

On Aug. 4, an OSHA inspector who was passing by Miranda Construction's Newport, R.I., worksite observed employees working on the building's roof without fall protection. The agency immediately opened an inspection. The inspection verified that the two employees did not have personal fall arrest systems or an equivalent form of fall protection, according to OSHA.

As a result, OSHA issued a willful citation, carrying a proposed $28,000 fine, for the lack of fall protection.

The agency issued two repeat citations, with $8,000 in proposed fines, for allegedly not developing and implementing a fall protection training program for employees and for lack of head protection for an employee working at ground level.

OSHA issues a repeat citation when an employer has been cited for a substantially similar hazard in the past and that citation has become final. In this case, Miranda Construction previously had been cited for similar hazards in 2005 at jobsites in Cranston, R.I., and North Dartmouth, Mass.

In addition, the agency issued two serious citations, with $4,000 in proposed fines, for a scaffold platform that extended too far over its end points and an extension ladder that was erected at an unsafe angle.

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