Judge Upholds $250K in Scaffold Hazard Penalties for NY Contractor

Judge found contractor had knowledge of hazards and authority to have subcontractors correct safety hazards

Occupational Safety & Health Administration

Flintlock Construction Services LLC of Mamaroneck, NY, was the general contractor for the construction of a 23-story hotel at 325 W. 33rd St. in Manhattan in 2013. An U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspection found that Flintlock failed to protect employees working on scaffolds from potentially fatal falls of up to 26 feet. In September 2013, OSHA cited Flintlock for willful and serious violations and proposed $249,920 in penalties.

Flintlock contested its citations and penalties to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The contractor alleged that some violations were not willful because its corporate principals did not have knowledge of the hazards and Flintlock made at least a minimal attempt at compliance.

After review, Chief Administrative Law Judge Covette Rooney upheld all the citations and penalties. The judge found Flintlock had knowledge of the hazards and the authority to have its subcontractors correct safety hazards. The court also held Flintlock responsible for the oversight of safe working conditions and determined it was the controlling employer at the "325 Project" worksite. The judge's decision also ordered Flintlock to pay the $249,920 in penalties.

Read the full decision and order.

"This was a clear case of an employer knowingly placing its employees at risk of deadly or disabling injuries caused by the number one killer in construction work — falls. Judge Rooney's decision upholds our findings and reiterates an important fact: Employers cannot ignore their legal responsibility to safeguard their employees and adhere to workplace safety standards," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

"Employers should take note of this decision and the fact that the U.S. Department of Labor will not hesitate to take appropriate legal action to safeguard employees' rights to a safe and healthful workplace. Their employees' lives and well-being depend on their complying with the law," said Jeffrey Rogoff, regional solicitor of labor in New York.

Flintlock Construction Services LLC has filed a petition for discretionary review with the review commission.

The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Manhattan Area Office and the case is being litigated for OSHA by the Labor Department's regional Office of the Solicitor in New York.