OSHA cites construction company for several violations
Burgos Construction Corp., Tampa, Fla., has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for four willful, one repeat and two serious safety violations after OSHA inspectors observed workers performing residential construction without fall-protection systems at four work sites in the Florida cities of Land O'Lakes, Lithia, Riverview and Tampa.
The inspections began in January as part of the agency's Regional Emphasis Program on Falls in Construction. Proposed penalties total $228,690. Burgos Construction was established in 2012 and has been inspected by OSHA eight times during the past two years.
"Burgos Construction has been cited seven times in the past two years for not providing fall protection for its employees engaged in residential construction. Company officials are fully aware of the fall-protection requirements," says Les Grove, OSHA's Tampa-area director. "Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. Allowing workers exposure to a fatal fall or serious injury demonstrates the employer's lack of commitment to worker safety."
The willful violations were cited because Burgos Construction failed to provide fall-protection systems to its workers at each of the four work sites where they installed floor joists and conducted framing and roofing work at heights ranging from 9 to 28 feet. OSHA requires a fall-protection system when residential work is performed at a height of 6 feet or higher. The willful violations carry penalties of $215,600.
The repeat violation was cited for allowing workers to use a ladder improperly. Burgos Construction was cited for the same violation in May 2013. The repeat violation carries a penalty of $6,160.
The serious violations were cited for failing to provide fall-protection training for workers and allowing employees to access a second-floor stairwell not protected by handrails on both sides. The serious violations carry penalties of $6,930.
Burgos Construction has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
For more information about this case, visit www.osha.gov.
OSHA directive requires increased inspector training
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a training requirements directive July 28 mandating compliance officers to continue taking technical education courses throughout their careers. The directive, TED 01-00-019, replaces a directive used since 2008, TED 01-00-018, which required fewer courses for veteran inspectors.
The directive could affect about 2,200 federal OSHA and state-plan inspectors. State-plan states must submit information to OSHA by the end of this month about how they will satisfy the new training mandate.
The new and old directives require inspectors to complete eight courses offered by the OSHA Training Institute within three years, including investigative interviewing techniques and accident investigation. The new directive requires compliance officers complete at least six additional technical courses through their eighth year, and starting their ninth year, complete at least one course every three years.
For more information about the new directive, visit www.osha.gov/OshDoc/Directive_pdf/TED_01-00-019.pdf.
DOL settles retaliation case
The Department of Labor (DOL) has resolved a lawsuit alleging the illegal termination of a general laborer with McKees Rocks Industrial Enterprises Inc., McKees Rocks, Pa., and the company's president, James T. Lind. The worker raised safety concerns at the company's McKees Rocks work site, which serves as an industrial park and terminal facility, resulting in an inspection by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Following OSHA's inspection, the employee initially was reassigned duties and later was terminated from his position.
"Every worker has the right to call attention to workplace safety and health issues without the fear of retaliation," says David Michaels, OSHA's assistant secretary of labor. "This settlement is a testament to OSHA's unwavering commitment to intervene legally when workers are the victims of a wrongful termination."
After the employee was terminated, he filed a complaint alleging the company had violated Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act. OSHA found McKees Rocks Industrial Enterprises violated the act by firing the employee in retaliation for his whistleblowing.
In September 2013, DOL filed suit in federal district court seeking reinstatement and monetary damages on behalf of the employee. A judgment filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania provides for a $100,000 payment to the employee and permanently prohibits McKees Rocks Industrial Enterprises from violating OSH Act's whistleblower provisions. The judgment also requires the company to display whistleblower-protection information prominently at its facility; remove all disciplinary action in the employee's official employment record; and provide prospective employers with a neutral reference for the worker.
Under the various whistleblower provisions enacted by Congress, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to an employer, the government, union or the media. Employees who believe they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor for an investigation by OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program.