Twin Pines Construction, Inc., an Everett, Massachusetts based wood framing contractor, has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for alleged willful, repeat, and serious violations of workplace safety standards regarding fall hazards at its Durham, New Hampshire work site.
Workers at the site were exposed to falls risks of 9 feet up to 30 feet due to inadequate or missing fall protection safeguards. Fall hazards related to front ladder misuse and inadequate personal fall arrest systems that could allow workers to fall more than 6 feet and strike lower levels in violation of OSHA standards were also found. The standards require that employees working 6 or more feet above a lower level be protected against falls by guardrails, safety nets, or personal fall arrest systems. As a result of these violations, Twin Pines Construction Inc. was issued three willful citations with fines of $200,500. Willful violations are ones committed with intentional, knowing, or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA New Hampshire area director said, “The sizable penalties proposed here reflect the gravity and recurring nature of these hazards, plus this employer’s knowledge of and refusal to correct them. This is unacceptable. Falls remain the number one killer in construction work, having cost the lives of 264 workers in 2010. Employers who fail to supply and ensure the use of proper and effective fall protection safeguards are gambling with the lives and well-being of their employees.”
The company was also issued four repeat citations for hazards similar to ones cited in 2008 and 2011 at other worksites in Boston, Lakeville, Lexington, Newbury, and New Bedford, Massachusetts, and in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The fines for these citations total $75,900. The citations were for hazards including lack of fall protection training, missing handrails, lack of eye protection for workers using pneumatic nail guns, and ungrounded electrical cords.
Additionally, citations were issued for three serious violations for wood and metal trusses which were inadequately braced during installation, lack of protection from falling objects, and missing fire extinguishers. Proposed fines for these violations are $14,300.
Because falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, OSHA has created a Fall Prevention Campaign to raise awareness of fall hazards and how to prevent them. The web page for the campaign can be found at www.osha.gov/stopfalls. The page provides detailed information on fall protection standards in both English and Spanish. There are also printable fact sheets, posters, and videos which illustrate fall hazards and appropriate preventive measures.
OSHA area director Ohar said, “All employers must plan ahead to identify fall hazards and use the proper type of fall protection, provide proper and properly maintained equipment, and train workers to protect themselves against fall hazards.”