The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Gire Construction Inc. for six violations, including five willful, for failing to provide fall protection to roofers working on commercial and residential projects. The Champaign-based company faces penalties totaling $144,100 as a result of four separate safety inspections.
"Falls are a leading cause of injury and death in the construction industry," said Thomas Bielema, OSHA's area director in Peoria. "Employers are responsible for knowing what hazards exist in their workplaces and ensuring that workers are not exposed to risks that could result in injury or death."
OSHA initiated an inspection under a local emphasis program for fall hazards on May 27 at a Gire Construction work site in Decatur, where 21 workers were observed removing shingles from a commercial building without fall protection. Two willful violations were cited for the lack of fall protection as well as related training. Local emphasis programs are enforcement strategies intended to address hazards or industries that pose a particular risk to workers in the area.
On June 3, Gire Construction employees were observed at two separate residential sites in the same Champaign neighborhood performing roofing work without fall protection, which resulted in citations for two more willful violations. Another willful violation was cited for failing to have a ladder extended 3 feet over the roof's eave.
The five willful violations carry total proposed penalties of $140,800. 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.
One serious violation with proposed penalties of $3,300 was cited for failing to require workers to use eye protection at a work site in Rantoul, which was inspected on Sept. 15. 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.
OSHA standards require that an effective form of fall protection, such as guardrails, safety nets or personal fall arrest systems, be in use when workers perform residential construction activities 6 feet or more above the next lower level. Detailed information on fall protection hazards and safeguards is available online at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/fallprotection/index.html.
Gire Construction previously was inspected by OSHA five times since 2004, resulting in citations for 12 violations related to fall protection, personal protective equipment training and ladder usage.
The latest citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/GireConstruction_98870_1118_11.pdf*
Gire Construction 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 Peoria office at 309-589-7033.
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.