Unprotected Workers on Roof, Truck's Raised Forks Lead to Willful Charges

OSHA has cited Homeland Builders Inc., a Fall River, Mass.-based construction contractor, for alleged willful, repeat, and serious safety hazards at a Milford, Conn., construction site. The company, which previously has been cited for fall hazards at jobsites in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, faces a total of $214,800 in proposed fines, chiefly for fall-related hazards at the Milford site.

The citations and fines follow OSHA inspections begun in April after OSHA inspectors on two separate occasions observed fall hazards while driving by the jobsite. Homeland Builders employees were seen working without required fall protection on the roof of the structure under construction and on the raised forks of a powered industrial truck, situations that exposed the employees to falls of 13 to 15 feet.

"The dangers posed by fall hazards cannot be understated. They are the number one killer in construction work," said Robert Kowalski, OSHA's area director in Bridgeport, Conn., the office that conducted the investigation. "What's particularly disturbing is that this employer--who has been cited for fall protection violations in the past--allowed these hazards to continue even in the midst of an ongoing OSHA inspection."

The inspection also uncovered other fall-related hazards including lack of fall protection for employees working on a scaffold, lack of scaffold training, inadequate roof and scaffold access, using a materials hoist as a ladder, and ladders of insufficient height. Other identified hazards included lack of eye protection for employees using nail guns, unguarded saws, lack of fire extinguishers, uninspected scaffolds, and not training employees to recognize fall, ladder, and general safety hazards.

Specifically, OSHA issued the company three willful citations, with $168,000 in fines, for the roof and forklift fall hazards and for the unguarded saw; five repeat citations, with $30,900 in fines, for lack of scaffold fall protection, inspection and training, ladders of insufficient height, and lack of eye protection; and eight serious citations, with $15,900 in fines, for the other access, ladder, and training issues. Homeland Builders has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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