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Roofer Fined $160K for Repeat Dangers

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

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A New York roofing contractor with a history of federal fall protection violations is facing new willful, repeat and serious citations and nearly $160,000 in fines for the same issue.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's latest case against A.M. Stern Inc., of Rochester, stems mainly from fall hazards identified during an inspection July 10.

A.M. Stern declined Monday (Jan. 14) to comment on the case.

Fall Dangers

Twice, OSHA said, its inspectors saw Stern employees exposed to falls of 15 to 30 feet while working at the unprotected edges of a building's roof. In addition, OSHA said, the designated safety monitor on site was not close enough to the unprotected employees to warn them about the fall hazards.

Stop Falls

OSHA's "Stop Falls" campaign takes aim at the construction industry's No. 1 killer.

As a result, OSHA issued one willful citation for the lack of fall protection and one repeat citation for the improperly located safety monitor; each citation carried a $70,000 fine.

A willful violation, OSHA's highest level of infraction, is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. A repeat violation exists when an employer has been cited for the same or a similar violation within five years.

OSHA issued a similar violation to A.M. Stern in August 2008 at a Geneseo worksite.

The new case also includes five serious citations, totaling $19,250 in fines, for:

  • Not providing medical evaluations and training for employees required to wear respirators;
  • Allowing an untrained employee to operate a forklift;
  • Not providing employees with information and training on hazardous chemicals; and
  • The safety monitor's failure to warn employees of fall hazards.

'Number One Killer'

"Unfortunately, our inspectors all too often encounter job sites where fall protection is inadequate or absent, exposing workers to the number one killer in construction work," said Arthur Dube, OSHA's Buffalo area director.

"It's imperative that employers in western New York and elsewhere provide effective fall protection for their employees and ensure that their workers are trained to recognize and address fall hazards."

Stop Falls

"This is about saving lives," an OSHA official warned. The agency has fined a New York roofer nearly $160,000 after a history of serious and repeat citations.

OSHA has created a Stop Falls website with detailed information in English and Spanish on fall protection standards. The site offers fact sheets, posters and videos that vividly illustrate various fall hazards and appropriate preventive measures.

Company Record

OSHA records show that A.M. Stern was cited on three occasions in a four-month period in 2004. The violations involved serious and repeat violations of fall protection standards, and the company paid fines. In addition, two similar cases were closed in 2006; in one case, a $30,000 fine for a repeat violation was settled as well as a $5,000 fine for a serious violation.

The years 2007 and 2008 saw one case each against the company, with multiple citations each year. In all, the company settled 24 violations in seven cases from 2004 to 2008. Most of the cases were reduced in severity and/or fines before settlement.

"This is about saving lives," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator for New York. "When 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 their responsibility for providing a safe workplace seriously. One means of doing so is to develop and maintain an effective safety and health management system to systemically address hazards."


Tagged categories: Access; Construction; Fall protection; Fatalities; Good Technical Practice; OSHA; Roofing contractors

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