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Region 5 News Release: 11-1666-CHI
Nov. 22, 2011
Contact: Scott Allen      Rhonda Burke
Phone: 312-353-6976      312-353-6976
Email: allen.scott@dol.gov      burke.rhonda@dol.gov

US Department of Labor's OSHA cites United Contracting in Forest Junction,
Wis., for failing to provide fall protection to painters, other violations

FOREST JUNCTION, Wis. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited United Contracting with 14 safety violations, including willful violations for failing to provide a scaffold designed by a qualified person and fall protection for workers painting road overpasses at two separate Fond du Lac job sites. Proposed fines total $149,200.

"United Contracting has a responsibility to ensure that its employees are properly protected from falls when performing painting operations," said Frank Winingham, OSHA's area director in Appleton. "OSHA is committed to protecting workers, especially when employers fail to do so."

An OSHA compliance officer initiated an inspection on May 23 after observing a worker, who was part of a bridge painting crew, straddling the parapet of a highway bridge overpass at Scott Street and U.S. Highway 41. Parapets on bridges prevent users from falling off where there is a drop. The company has been cited for two willful violations for failing to have scaffolds designed by a qualified person and provide fall protection, as the parapet was fewer than 42 inches in height. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

Four serious safety violations also have been cited: failing to block parapet hooks to prevent movement, not securing parapet hooks, allowing employees to sit on a parapet wall without adequate fall protection and not properly securing personal fall arrest system snap hooks. A serious violation occurs when there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. Proposed penalties for the Scott Street investigation total $70,400.

United Contracting also was inspected on June 28, after local law enforcement notified OSHA that a worker had fallen from a scaffold being erected on the Townline Road overpass on U.S. Highway 41. Two willful violations have been cited for failing to have scaffolds designed by a qualified person and provide fall protection, as the parapet was not at least 42 inches high. Additionally, six serious violations have been cited for failing to provide forklift training, block parapet hooks from movement, secure parapet hooks and secure the scaffold platform used as a ladder access point, as well as for making alterations to a forklift. Proposed penalties for the Townline Road investigation total $78,800.

Prior to these inspections, United Contracting had been inspected by OSHA 15 times since 1993. Previously known as United Painting Inc., the company was cited for violations of fall protection and scaffolding standards on four other occasions.

OSHA has placed United Contracting in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. Initiated in June 2010, the program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. For more information on SVEP, visit http://s.dol.gov/J3.

Detailed information about fall hazards and safeguards is available on OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/fallprotection/construction.html. Detailed information on scaffold hazards and safe work practices, including an interactive e-Tool, is available online at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/scaffolding/index.html.

The current citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/united-contracting-inc_315289017_1118_11.pdf* and http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/united-contracting-inc_315288639_1118_11.pdf*.

United Contracting has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's 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 Appleton office at 920-734-4521.

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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U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.


* Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF documents.


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