Drive-by Inspection Results in $60,000 in Fines for Builder

OSHA has proposed a total of $60,000 in fines against Homeland Builders Inc., a Fall River, Mass.-based contractor, for alleged repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards following the agency's inspection of a jobsite in East Providence, R.I.

Agency inspectors driving by a building under construction at the site observed Homeland Builders workers exposed to apparent fall hazards and opened an inspection on the spot. OSHA found that the scaffold on which the employees were working lacked adequate guardrails and a safe means of access, and one leg of the scaffold was not set on a firm foundation, exposing workers to falls of up to 12 feet to the ground. In addition, the workers lacked eye and head protection, were using an unguarded grinder, and were exposed to electric shock hazards from cut and frayed electrical cords and ungrounded cords and equipment.

"These workers faced potential death or serious injury from these conditions, several of which were similar to those for which OSHA cited this employer in the past," said Patrick Griffin, OSHA's area director for Rhode Island. "While it is fortunate that no one was injured here, good luck is never an acceptable worker safeguard. For the safety and well-being of its workers, this employer must take effective, ongoing action to prevent these hazards from recurring."

As a result of its findings, OSHA has issued Homeland Builders three repeat citations with $52,500 in fines for the fall, guardrail, and eye protection hazards, and four serious citations with $7,500 in fines for the remaining items. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known. The repeat citations stem from OSHA having cited Homeland Builders in 2007 and 2008 for similar hazards at jobsites in Braintree, Mass., and Milford, Conn.

Homeland Builders has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, meet with OSHA, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Providence Area Office.

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