Workers doing renovation at the former Dye Works at 15 Cottage St. in Easthampton, Mass., faced potentially fatal falls of up to 40 feet because their employers failed to provide proper protection, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has found. OSHA inspectors visited the worksite on July 11, 2014, in response to a complaint about fall hazards there.
In all, four contractors were cited and fined $110,670 by OSHA. The project's general contractor, James J. Welch & Co. Inc., of Salem, Mass., was cited for the majority of the violations. OSHA found several fall hazards; no fall protection for employees working on the roof; unguarded floor holes; insufficient anchorage for fall protection; and employees untrained to recognize fall hazards. Because of these conditions, Welch was cited for one willful, one repeat and three serious violations of workplace safety standards, with $93,170 in proposed fines.
This is not the first time OSHA investigated this worksite for safety violations. In July 2014, OSHA cited Connecticut-based abrasive blasting contractor Maher Industries, doing business as A Fast Blast, for lead, silica and respirator violations and proposed $47,600 in fines. The company is currently contesting its citations and fines.
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning contractor Atlantis Comfort Systems Corp., of Smithfield, R.I., was cited for two serious violations, with $7,000 in fines, for failure to ensure the use of fall protection and failure to document fall protection training.
Masonry subcontractor Jean Beauthier, doing business as All Custom Masonry, of Rutland, Mass., was cited for two serious violations, with $5,600 in fines, for failure to provide fall protection for employees working on a scaffold and for using a scaffold that was not fully planked.
Finally, window contractor J&R Glass Service, of Fitchburg, Mass., was cited for one serious violation, with a fine of $4,900, for not protecting an employee from possible falls through a wall opening. 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 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 repeat violation exists when an employer has been cited previously 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.
Each employer has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet informally with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.