US Labor Department secures decision affirming fall hazard violation,
fine against Campbell, Ohio-based bridge painting company
BOSTON – A decision from an administrative law judge with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission upholds a citation issued by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration to Campbell, Ohio-based M & JPainting Co. Inc. for failing to abate a safety violation first cited in 2010. The citation carries a $19,250 fine, which also has been upheld.
M & J Painting cleaned and painted the Charles M. Braga Jr. Bridge in Fall River, Mass. In 2010, OSHA inspected the bridge work site and issued a citation encompassing six serious violations. One of the violations involved insufficient horizontal lines used by workers, which placed them in danger of fall injuries. M & Jsettled with the Labor Department and agreed to have a safety consultant qualified in fall protection systems design horizontal lifeline systems that would effectively protect workers from falls during bridge work.
OSHA inspectors commenced a follow-up inspection of the bridge site in 2011. During that inspection they were barred by company employees from accessing the property to photograph the horizontal lifeline system. Inspectors returned with a warrant and found that the horizontal lifeline system did not meet safety standards in that a qualified person had not designed, installed and supervised the use of the system, as M & Jhad agreed to arrange. As a result, OSHA issued the citation for the failure-to-abate violation.
"Serious, life-threatening hazards remained uncorrected even after they were brought to the employer's attention," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's regional administrator for New England. "Employers must effectively address and correct such hazards to prevent a potentially harmful incident from happening."
M & J Painting then contested the citation and fine, and a three-day trial was held before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. After hearing the evidence, the judge upheld the citations and penalties. The company had 20 days from the date of the judge's ruling to appeal, in which case a panel of commissioners would have conducted a discretionary review of the decision. The company did not appeal. The commission is an independent federal agency created to decide contests of citations or penalties resulting from workplace inspections conducted by OSHA.
"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. "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." Senior Trial Attorney Kevin Sullivan tried the case on behalf of the Department.
OSHA's fall prevention campaign, announced in April, provides employers and workers with lifesaving information and educational materials about working safely from ladders, scaffolds and roofs. It was developed in partnership with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and NIOSH's National Occupational Research Agenda program. More information on fall protection standards is available in English and Spanish at http://www.osha.gov/stopfalls.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
OSHRC Docket Number 11-2694
Secretary of labor v. M & JPainting Co. Inc
# # #
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.