Judge Upholds OSHA Citation in Fall Hazard Case

After reviewing an appeal from an Ohio-based painting company, a judge has upheld the citations OSHA filed against the company.

A judge has ruled on a dispute between OSHA and a company related to a safety violation two years ago that led to the death of a worker.

M & J Painting was cited with six serious violations, but contested one that carried a $19,250 fine. The Ohio-based company cleaned and painted a bridge in Fall River, Mass. in 2010. OSHA officials inspected the work the company was doing on the bridge and doled out six citations to the company.

The violation that was contested by the company involved a lack of horizontal lines used by workers. This insufficiency could have resulted in serious fall hazards, and even injuries or fatalities.

When OSHA officials returned the next year for a follow-up inspection, employees barred them from the site.

After returning with a warrant, an OSHA investigation resulted in a failure-to-abate violation, because M & J Painting did not correct the safety issues OSHA originally found.

The company then contested this violation. However, after a three-day trial, an administrative law judge upheld the citation and the company is still responsible for the full amount of the fine.

"Employers cannot disregard standards meant to protect the safety of their employees without facing consequences," said Christine Eskilson, Counsel for OSHA with the department's Regional Office of the Solicitor in Boston, in a statement on the agency’s website. "This decision not only affirms OSHA's findings, it also shows that the Department of Labor will not hesitate to pursue appropriate legal action on behalf of America's workers."

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