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OSHA Hits Contractor with 4th Fine in 3 Years

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

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A New York painting and masonry contractor cited and fined by federal authorities in 2007, 2008 and 2009 for scaffold and fall hazards now faces 15 new citations and an additional $225,200 fine for similar violations.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Monday (Sept. 13) that it had cited Painting and Decorating Inc., of Ronkonkoma, NY, for 15 alleged willful, repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards following recent OSHA inspections of two job sites.

Both inspections were opened when OSHA inspectors “observed clearly recognized scaffolding and fall-protection hazards while driving by” two of the company’s job sites in Kings Point, NY.

“These sizable fines reflect both the gravity of the cited hazards and this employer's prior history of similar violations,” said Anthony Ciuffo, OSHA's Long Island area director in Westbury.

“Scaffolds must be properly erected and fall protection provided to employees when they work on scaffolds at heights of 10 feet or more, yet this employer has repeatedly neglected to implement these basic, commonsense and legally required safeguards.”

The company lists no phone number or web site and could not be reached for comment Tuesday (Sept. 14)

A Record of Violations

Painting and Decorating Inc. is no stranger to OSHA.

In January 2007, according to OSHA records, the company was cited for 11 serious violations and fined $16,800. After an informal conference with area OSHA authorities, the company corrected the hazards, provided proof of abatement, and paid a reduced fine of $8,400. The case was closed on Feb. 8, 2010.

Meanwhile, in September 2008, OSHA cited the company for nine repeat violations, four willful violations and seven serious violations, mainly for failing to protect employees against falls and other construction hazards at two job sites. That fine was initially set at $147,200. The company disputed the citations, and the case followed OSHA’s full appeals process. In the end, an Administrative Law Judge reduced the fine to $65,000.

The 2008 case is not yet closed, and an OSHA spokesman was trying to verify whether the company had fully paid that fine yet.

In July 2009, OSHA cited the company for five repeat violations of safety standards and issued a total of  $120,750 in new fines. That inspection began Jan. 23, 2009, when an OSHA inspector driving by a worksite observed employees performing stucco work on a 13-foot-high scaffold without guardrails or a fall protection system. The inspector also found that the company had not fully planked the scaffold, had not provided a ladder for workers to access the scaffold, had allowed makeshift devices to increase the scaffold's height, and had not provided workers with protective helmets. That case also remains open.

New Citations, Fines

In the newest case, Painting and Decorating Inc. was issued eight willful citations totaling $200,000 in fines for not fully planking scaffolds, providing an access ladder, ensuring that scaffolds rested on base plates, or providing fall protection at either jobsite. Six serious citations with $5,200 in fines were issued for missing railings, toeboards and bracing at both jobsites. The contractor was issued one repeat citation with a $20,000 fine for not training workers at one jobsite on scaffolding assembly and work.

OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known. The repeat citations stem from OSHA having cited the employer in 2007 and 2008 for similar hazards at jobsites in Kings Point and Great Neck, N.Y.

Painting and Decorating Inc. 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.


Tagged categories: Contractors; Fall protection; Health and safety; OSHA; Scaffolding; Violations

Comment from Jack Henley, (9/16/2010, 11:27 AM)

I know from doing business with such companies it is almost impossible to stop these safety volitions, there is only one way to handle this type of attitude. Refuse the license to operate. As for as fines are concerned, none payment of fines is an automatic permanent "shut-down".

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