US Labor Department's OSHA proposes more than $61,000 in fines to
Syracuse, NY, roofing contractor for fall hazards at Liverpool work site
Agency calls on central New York employers to take effective action against falls
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Employees at a Michael C. Graham & Son Construction site in Liverpool were exposed to potentially deadly or disabling falls of up to 17 feet due to a lack of fall protection, resulting in citations issued by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for willful, repeat and serious violations. The Syracuse-based roofing contractor faces a total of $61,600 in proposed fines following an inspection by OSHA's Syracuse Area Office.
Inspectors found employees at the Oswego Road site exposed to falls while staging roofing materials and stripping shingles without guardrails, safety nets or personal fall protection equipment. These conditions resulted in citations carrying $24,200 in fines for two willful violations. 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.
Citations carrying $33,000 in fines are for two repeat violations that involve failing to train workers on fall hazards and allowing workers to access a roof using a ladder that did not extend at least 3 feet above the landing surface for the required stability. 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. Similar violations were cited at work sites in North Syracuse in 2011 and 2012 as well as a site in Liverpool in 2008.
Citations carrying $4,400 in fines are for two serious violations that involve operating a circular saw and various other power tools that were connected to an ungrounded extension cord and receptacle, as well as using a ladder that was not equally supported by two ladder rails, which exposed employees to falls. 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.
"Unfortunately, this is not an unusual situation. Too often, we encounter work sites where fall protection is inadequate or absent, exposing workers to the No. 1 killer in construction work," said Christopher Adams, OSHA's Syracuse area director. "To combat this reality, OSHA has launched a campaign to remind employers and employees alike of what they can do to eliminate fall hazards at their work sites. I'm calling upon employers in central New York to review their fall protection programs, provide effective fall protection and ensure that their employees are trained to recognize and address fall hazards."
OSHA also has created a "Stop Falls" Web page – http://www.osha.gov/stopfalls – with detailed information in English and Spanish on fall protection standards. The page offers fact sheets, posters and videos that vividly illustrate various fall hazards and appropriate preventive measures.
OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are working with trade associations, labor unions, employers, universities, community and faith-based organizations, and consulates to provide employers and workers – especially vulnerable, low-literacy workers – with education and training on common-sense fall prevention equipment and strategies that save lives.
"This call is about saving lives," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator for New York. "Any time employees lack effective fall protection, they are just one slip, trip or misstep away from a deadly or disabling injury. We urge employers to take seriously their responsibility for providing a safe workplace. One means of doing so is develop and maintain an effective safety and health management system to systemically address hazards."
A company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet informally with the OSHA area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and 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 Syracuse office at 315-451-0808.
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.
Note to editors: The graphics and videos on OSHA's Stop Falls Web page – http://www.osha.gov/stopfalls – highlight a variety of fall hazards and safeguards. Feel free to incorporate them and the page into your coverage.
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.