Hamburg, New York, home improvement company fined for exposing
workers to potentially fatal fall hazards at Lackawanna, New York, work site
Kevin Burke Home Improvement faces more than $56,000 in proposed penalties
BUFFALO, N.Y. – A home improvement business based in Hamburg was found to have repeatedly exposed its employees to potentially fatal falls of 20 feet or more at a Lackawanna work site, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Kevin Burke Home Improvement was cited for five serious and two willful safety violations, with total proposed penalties of $56,400.
OSHA inspectors driving by the 2847 S. Park Ave. work site on April 16, 2014, observed employees working on the roof and on a scaffold without fall protection. They instructed the employer to ensure that all workers used fall protection before continuing work. When an OSHA inspector returned to the site the next day, he found the fall protection equipment had been removed or was not in use.
"Potentially deadly fall hazards were witnessed two consecutive days, even after the employer was given explicit instructions to correct the problems," said Michael Scime, OSHA's area director in Buffalo. "While no worker was killed or injured, the danger was real, and avoidable. This employer must live up to the responsibility of keeping its employees safe."
As a result, OSHA cited Kevin Burke Home Improvement for two willful violations of fall protection requirements, with $44,000 in fines. A willful violation is committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
OSHA cited the contractor for five serious violations, with $12,400 in fines, for not providing required hard hats to workers to protect them against head injuries from falling debris, and for overloading a scaffold and failing to provide proper fall protection equipment. 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.
"Falls are the number one killer in construction work. To raise awareness of fall hazards and safeguards, OSHA has created an ongoing Fall Prevention Campaign aimed at educating workers, employers and the public about how employers must plan to work safely, provide their employees with proper and effective fall protection equipment, and train their employees to recognize fall hazards before they occur," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator for New York.
Kevin Burke Home Improvement 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 & Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Buffalo Area Office at 716-551-3053.
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.
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