Tues., Oct. 7, 2008
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (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 a construction site at 188 Clark St. in Milford.
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. "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 Homeland Builders 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.
OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. Repeat citations are issued when an employer previously has been cited for substantially similar hazards and those citations have become final.
Homeland Builders has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. This inspection was conducted by OSHA's Bridgeport Area Office; telephone 203-579-5581.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to promote the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.