July 30, 2020
Administrative Law Judge Upholds U.S. Department of Labor Citations
And Penalties to Manufacturer That Falsely Claimed Violations' Abatement
NEW YORK, NY – An administrative law judge with the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission has upheld citations and penalties from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) against Timberline Hardwood Floors LLC, a custom hardwood-flooring manufacturer that falsely claimed to have corrected previously cited hazards. The judge's decision also orders the company to pay $166,265 in penalties for all violations.
In 2012, OSHA cited Timberline's predecessor entity, Timberline Hardwood Dimensions Inc., for failing to train forklift operators adequately, and develop and implement lockout/tagout, hearing conservation and chemical hazard communication programs at the Fulton, New York, plant. At that time, Thomas Vavra, a co-owner of both the predecessor and the current company, signed abatement certifications declaring the company had corrected those violations.
In 2018, an OSHA inspection found the company had not corrected the violations and the abatement claim was false. OSHA cited Timberline Hardwood Floors LLC for willful violations for those uncorrected hazards. Timberline contested the citations to the review commission. The judge issued a decision on July 9, 2020, affirming each of the willful citations, and seven serious citations from the 2018 inspection for violations including a locked emergency exit, unguarded machines and several electrical hazards.
"Employers have a duty to take effective actions to correct hazards and prevent their recurrence, and provide truthful information as to hazard abatement," said OSHA Regional Administrator Richard Mendelson in New York.
"The U.S. Department of Labor pursues appropriate legal actions to ensure that employers comply with the law, including when they refuse to correct workplace hazards that expose their employees to potentially fatal or disabling injuries," said Regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey S. Rogoff in New York.
OSHA's Syracuse Area Office conducted the inspection. Senior Trial Attorney Susan Jacobs of the regional Office of the Solicitor in New York litigated the case for OSHA.
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 help 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.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.
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Secretary of Labor v. Timberline Hardwood Floors LLC
OSHRC Docket No.18-1211/18-1212
Release Number: 20-1438-NEW / BOS 2020-188
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