Roofing Firm Fined $173,000 for Fall Hazards

A West Haven, Conn.-based roofing contractor's failure to supply fall protection for its employees has resulted in OSHA proposing $173,000 in proposed fines, the agency reported yesterday. Quality Roofing Systems Inc. was cited for a total of 11 alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards at its worksite in Farmington, Conn., following an OSHA inspection begun July 17, 2007, after an agency inspector observed the firm's employees exposed to falls of eight to 20 feet while working at or near the unprotected edges of flat and steep-pitched roofs.

OSHA standards mandate that fall protection be provided when employees work six feet or higher above the next lower level. As a result, OSHA issued Quality Roofing two willful citations, carrying $140,000 in proposed fines, for the lack of fall protection. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

"Falls are the number one killer in construction work, and employees working without fall protection are just one step away from death or disabling injury," said C. William Freeman III, OSHA's area director in Hartford. "The sizable fines proposed in this case reflect the fact that this employer knew this basic, commonsense safeguard was required yet elected not to provide it."

Additional hazards found on the jobsite included lack of guardrails, stairways, and ladders; lack of head and foot protection; overhead hazards; an ungrounded electrical generator; no fire extinguisher; lack of fall protection for employees working in a hoisting area and for employees using and storing equipment on the roof. These conditions resulted in nine serious citations with $33,000 in proposed fines. OSHA issues a serious citation when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

"Connecticut employers and employees should remember that OSHA inspectors can and will stop activity at a worksite and open an inspection on the spot if they observe fall hazards,” said Freeman. Detailed information on fall protection requirements and safeguards is available at OSHA's Web site here: www.osha.gov/SLTC/fallprotection/index.html.

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