OSHA Fines Contractor Nearly 150k for Workplace Violations

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Champion Builders LLC for alleged willful, serious and repeat violations of workplace safety standards following OSHA’s inspection of a hotel construction site in Madison. The Bristol steel erection contractor faces a total of $143,000 in proposed fines, chiefly for fall hazards at the 94 West Wharf Road work site.

OSHA found employees exposed to falls of up to 53 feet while working without protection on the building’s roof, and to falls of 7 to 25 feet from unprotected or inadequately protected wall and window openings. Other fall hazards stemmed from an unguarded floor hole, missing or inadequate stair railings, and a lack of training for workers to recognize and address fall hazards. In addition, the operator of a powered industrial truck used to move steel around the job site was not trained in its safe operation, exposing employees to being struck or crushed by the vehicle.

“The sizable fines proposed here reflect not only the gravity of these conditions but the employer’s knowledge of them and history of similar violations,” said Robert Kowalski, OSHA’s area director in Bridgeport. “The citations address the employer’s failure to comply with basic construction safety requirements. These conditions must be effectively addressed so they do not occur again.”

As a result of its inspection, OSHA issued Champion Builders two willful citations with $110,000 in proposed fines for the rooftop and powered industrial truck hazards; three serious citations with $19,000 in fines for hazards relating to the floor hole, stair rail and lack of training; and one repeat citation with a $14,000 fine for the unguarded window and wall openings.

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. 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. 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. The repeat citation stems from OSHA having cited the company in June 2007 for a similar hazard in East Hartford.

Detailed information on hazards and safeguards associated with falls and powered industrial trucks is available online at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/fallprotection/construction.html and http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/poweredindustrialtrucks/index.html.

The employer has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA’s Bridgeport Area Office; telephone 203-579-5581. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).

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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