While OSHA raised their fines a bit, there were no surprises in the areas where they did: fall and excavation hazards led the list of penalties. Falls are part of the so-called “Fatal Four”, along with struck-by injuries, caught in/between, and electrocution. But it was falls and excavation where the fines seemed to rack up in the fourth quarter.
As part of the 2016 federal budget bill, OSHA was required to bring its penalty structure in line with the consumer price index, the first time the agency raised fines since 1990. Fines rose a whopping 78% in 2016, and have seen periodic increases since then.
The top proposed fines for Q4, 2019 were:
Allways Roofing – Snohomish, WA, with a proposed fine of $374,400
The fines were spread across two jobsites, for a total of 18 citations (six serious, six willful, two repeat, and four “other”.) Most of the citations were involving fall protection, including failure to provide a fall arrest system, the unsafe use of ladders at upper levels, lack of adequate fall protection on steep roofs, and lack of walk-around safety inspections. The violations are being contested by the company.
Mike Krueger (roofer) – Martin, OH, with a proposed fine of $274,544
This contractor has been cited multiple times dating back to 2008, according to the Department of Labor. OSHA found violations at two worksites where workers did not have guardrails, safety nets or personal fall arrest systems. They also had not been trained about potential fall hazards, had not developed a prevention program, were using ladders in an unsafe manner, and were not using eye protection with pneumatic nail guns. The violations were not contested, and are in collections.
Davila Construction – St. Louis, MO, with a proposed fine of $205,098
OSHA inspected three Martin Davila sites and found that the residential roofing contractor had failed to require adequate fall protection, to train workers about fall safety hazards and the safe use of ladders, and had failed to provide personal protective equipment. They also found that internal combustion engines were being used near a five-gallon gas can. The violations are pending abatement.
It’s all well and good to talk about safety and protection, but when rubber meets the road, OSHA is not kidding around about their safety violations and penalties. It would behoove all construction companies to make themselves aware of all OSHA requirements and make sure that they both provide the proper equipment to the workers on site, but also train their workers on all best practices and training actions. To do otherwise is to suffer sometimes irreparable damage to both the finances of the company, but also the lives of employees.