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OSHA Hits Wood Framer with $290K Bill

Thursday, May 30, 2013

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Fall hazards and other safety problems at a New Hampshire construction site may cost a Massachusetts wood framing contractor with a history of violations nearly $300,000 in new federal fines.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Twin Pines Construction Inc., of Everett, for three willful, four repeat, and three serious violations after an inspection initiated by the agency’s Concord, NH, area office.

OSHA announced the citations Tuesday (May 28).

Twin Pines Construction
Twin Pines Construction Inc. / The Blue Book

OSHA says the proposed fines against Twin Pines Construction reflect the gravity and recurring nature of fall hazards, as well as the employer's refusal to correct known hazards.

The company did not immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment. Twin Pines is united under a single corporate structure with the same management and address as Teles Construction Inc., a framing, roofing and siding company, according to an OSHA spokesperson.

Teles Construction's website, last updated in 2006, says that the company serves residential and commercial customers in the North Shore and Greater Boston area of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

Willful Infractions

In November and December 2012, OSHA inspectors say they discovered workers at a Durham, NH, jobsite performing framing work while being exposed to falls ranging from nine to 30 feet, due to missing or inadequate fall protection.

OSHA standards require that employees working six feet or more above a lower level be protected against falls by personal fall arrest systems, guardrails or safety nets.

Additional fall hazards at the jobsite stemmed from ladder misuse and personal fall arrest systems that could allow workers to fall more than six feet and strike lower levels, the agency said.

Fall hazards
Koralie Hill / OSHA

OSHA's Stop Falls web page features information in English and Spanish on fall protection standards.

As a result, three willful citations, totaling $200,500 in proposed fines, were issued. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

'Gambling with Lives'

“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,” said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA's New Hampshire area director.

“This is unacceptable,” she said, adding that falls remain the number-one killer in construction.

“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,” Ohar said.

Repeat Violator

Four repeat citations, carrying $75,900 in proposed fines, were also issued for the lack of fall protection training, no eye protection for workers using pneumatic nail guns, ungrounded electrical cords, and missing handrails.

A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

The alleged hazards were similar to those cited in 2009 and 2011 at work sites in Boston, Lakeville, Lexington, New Bedford and Newbury, MA, and in Portsmouth, NH, according to the agency.

OSHA
OSHA

Falls are the number one killer in construction. Employers must plan ahead to identify fall hazards and use the proper type of fall protection, Ohar says.

According to OSHA’s database, Twin Pines has six separate cases, with 16 alleged violations, that remain open, including two cases that the company has contested.

In a case from March 2009, the company was cited for five serious violations, carrying $4,800 in fines, for fall, ladder, wiring and other hazards, according to OSHA’s database. The company informally settled, and its penalty was reduced to $2,000.

Serious Safety Violations

After the recent inspection, Twin Pines was also issued three serious citations, carrying $14,300 in proposed fines, for wood and metal trusses inadequately braced during installation, missing fire extinguishers and no protection from falling objects.

A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known, OSHA said.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet informally with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

   

Tagged categories: Citations; Fall protection; Hazards; Health and safety; OSHA; Regulations

Comment from john Christina, (5/31/2013, 5:06 AM)

You don't have to worry about people dying on the jobs any longer..OSHA is going to Kill the companies ...And when the public gets the prices for the Fall Protection costs.. He will want to die.. Only government projects can afford to pay for Fall Protection..Because they are Spending our money $$$. This contractor is a "Marked" company.. RIP. P.S. Ask the working men if they want Fall Protection ????


Comment from Gregory Stoner, (6/3/2013, 9:54 PM)

Really. This is an educational excercise. The employer needs to believe in safety and that will transfer to the employees. This employer should not be in business someone is going to be seriously injured or killed. No amount of money can fix that.


Comment from M. Halliwell, (6/5/2013, 11:22 AM)

John, although there is an expense associated with purchasing fall arrest gear and training the staff to use it, it most certainly doesn't require you to only do government projects. One death, and the resulting OSHA fines and civil litigation, could easily cost far more than what it costs to prevent it. Gregory is right...it is a matter of educating employers and employees. But the most significant need is for both the employer and employees to "buy into" the program. If they haven't had a fall arrest program (or RPE program, or confined space program etc.) in the past, you'll get the "I don't want it" comments...but once they have "bought into it" and/or seen the value (i.e. it saves a life on their job) they wouldn't consider going without it in the future.


Comment from peter j grady, (6/6/2013, 7:24 AM)

Oh Stoner & Halliwell. you're both naive. You don't see the more dynamic encompassing issues. If one part of the government is strict rigid & aggressive in it's enforcement of safety rules (which are very expensive to follow) and another part of the government totally ignores other laws - illegal immigration/work visas etc etc. The owner operator with a crew of legal citizens is being pinched at both ends. He has to follow expensive guidelines and he has to lower rates drastically to compete with illegal workers/crews with drastically lower (illegal) bid rates. The problem is erratic enforcement of US Government rules/regulations/laws! Quit blaming the victim. I suspect you both of you overlook approve of some ILLEGAL behavior on jobs sites and then disapprove of other government laws/rules. I also suspect neither of you are onsite craftsmen owners/operators of trades businesses.


Comment from M. Halliwell, (6/6/2013, 11:12 AM)

Peter, I'm fortunate not to be living / working in the US and have a slightly different perspective. I do see the related issues in the US such as illegal immigration / workers...but I'm not offering a critique of the US government as a whole. You have two potentially very pertinent organizations (OSHA and the EPA) who are caught in the same impossible position. They virtually cannot update their regs due to the government bureaucracy, if they are strict in their enforcement they are accused of stifiling the economy and killing jobs and if they are lax in their enforcement they are accused of negligence when factories explode and workers die. My comment was specifically about safety...from first hand experience of 15 years in the field. No, I do not overlook illegal / unsafe behaviour because a) I'm dang sure I don't want a death on my shift or conscience, b) I don't want to go to jail or pay the fines if I am prosecuted for a safety incident and c) I don't think it is ethical to intentionally put someone at risk. I've been "work boots on the ground" (no white hard hat here) for the duration of my career and I've been involved with safety issues for a lot of it. You may call me naive, but I personally feel that safety (regardless of other issues like legal vs. illegal workers, the unscrupulous folks who exploit workers to line their pockets and so on) is more than a government responsibility....it is the responsibility of every person who goes to work and the people / companies that employ them. Education helps....no, it is not the only problem and certainly isn't the only solution...but for those who take responsibility for their work and those who work for them, it is an important factor.


Comment from Paul Braun, (6/7/2013, 10:00 AM)

Bravo, Halliwell. Industry refused to "resulate itself" (remember that quaint phrase?), which necessitated formation of the EPA and OSHA. Call me a cynic, but my guess is that the same companies that are complaining about the cost of OSHA compliance are not passing the "savings" of using uninsured undocumented workers on to their customers.


Comment from Dave Nelson, (4/16/2014, 11:47 PM)

As a roofing worker and operator of a company it is near impossible to keep the guys in line all of the time first of all. So I guess I could start to threaten their jobs but good help is hard to find especially in the roofing biz not to mention how I am not the type to threaten anybody in the first place. The best advice my ABC supply rep gave me to get them to harness up is a kitty of a substantial amount of money the OSHA people would get if they had infractions or the crew can receive it if no infractions occur. Mind you this was a couple years ago so I speak to him recently and ask about the incentive program, he said he quit doing it after OSHA took the 5k kitty for 2 years straight. He and I both are victims of these laws having OSHA called many times a year as we are the roofers at the top of our game in the area. Roofer on safe feeling roofs especially on ranch type roofs where they don't have a fear of the roofs 10' off the ground height neglecting the rules about being tied off daily is commonplace. Not to mention how safe is a roof with lets say 6 guys with ropes going every which way, moving every which way with expired shingles let say going to a dumpster across the roof. Not very safe i have seen many falls occur directly because of these lines it is similar to walking over jump ropes at times. Before the newest OSHA safety fall regulations the systems we used for roofing safety worked. One of my competitor solution was to fire all american workers roofers for a crew of illegals for which OSHA cannot fine and us immigration hasn't a care about. He said he makes more now due to lower labor and no gigantic OSHA fines and the crew has been stopped by OSHA gave the no abla english line and walked away with warnings every time. At this point I am sure any legit legal citizen hiring company in the roofing biz is going to feel the pinch soon if not already, and this pain is here to stay. The roofing police have their sites on the little guy now more now than ever . Next thing you know these safety NAZI's will have us wearing roofing ejector boots with parachute or roofing fall airbag suits,or something the insurance company and safety supply company lobbyists come up with. While the worker will be treated more like an animal that be strapped and bound however the people at the top deam safest to ensure their profits remain high. I would not want anything to happen to my guys ever, matter a fact I pray for our safety but these rules are simply to leach off of the working blue collar more and more. OSHA in their statistics will give crazy numbers about roof related injury and death but I tried to find out how dangerous it really is there is zero info to back it up. Every contractor I know can agree on one thing, having to be looking over your shoulder all of the time wondering about OSHA coming to fine you for the ridiculous stuff they fine you for outside of fall protection is LOCO. I will say my patriotic side is tested when it comes to these illegal worker who are knocking at my door as I write this. Being American and fair in this era is costing more and more. But as I am sure all of the other pro OSHA people here will agree I should just bend over and charge my customers more and screw the lost business whats a dollar anyway right?


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