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Builder Gets 10th OSHA Case in 4 Years

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

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A "recidivist" Massachusetts framing contractor cited eight times since 2009 for federal health and safety violations is facing two new cases that carry more than $300,000 in fines.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Twin Pines Construction Inc. (also known as Teles Construction Inc.), of Everett, MA, for willful, repeat and serious violations at two worksites in Plymouth and Reading, MA. Proposed fines for the two cases total $336,200.

The inspections followed the collapse of prefabricated roof trusses that struck a worker as he was installing them at a Twin Pines worksite in March. The worker suffered broken ribs and leg injuries. On the same day, OSHA says, it received another complaint about conditions at a second Twin Pines worksite.

Teles crew
Photos: Twin Pines/Teles Construction Inc.

"Reliable, trustful, responsible, and skillful, this is [sic] Teles Construction crew," the company's website says. Teles is facing its 10th OSHA case since 2009.

Twin Pines owner Juliano Teles Fernandes said by phone Tuesday (Sept. 17) that he planned to contest the current citations and was contesting others issued last year. He declined further comment.

Residential and Commercial Contractor

The company provides framing, siding and roofing services for commercial and residential customers, according to its website. The site lists a vast roster of residential and commercial projects, including apartment complexes, hotels, retail, office buildings, libraries, and single-family homes.

"Safety comes first," the website says. "Teles Construction practices safety rules very strictly."

The site says Fernandes "has successfully completed the OSHA 30-hour course" and that all employees complete OSHA 10-hour training.

Willful, Repeat and Serious Violations

In announcing the new citations, OSHA called the company "recidivist."

The Reading citations allege that employees were installing deck sheathing 20 feet up without fall protection or guardrails.

One willful citation—OSHA's highest level of infraction—notes that Twin Pines was cited for fall protection violations at multiple worksites 12 times since 2008.

A second willful citation alleges that workers were installing floor sheathing 10 feet up without fall protection or guardrails. OSHA issued similar citations against Twin Pines/Teles at multiple worksites on 12 occasions since 2008.

Stonington Lumber Condos

The Stonington Lumber Condos, in Stonington, CT, are featured in Twin Pines/Teles' commercial and residential portfolio.

Each willful violation carries a proposed fine of $70,000.

The citations from the Plymouth inspection in March include two willful violations related to struck-by and fall protection hazards cited on multiple occasions in recent years.

The citations also allege repeat violations for modifying equipment in ways that conflict with the manufacturer's recommendation and for using damaged equipment.

Twin Pines also repeatedly allowed workers to use the top of ladders as a step, a dangerous practice for which it has been cited on several occasions, according to OSHA.

Several serious violations allege:

  • Falling wooden trusses and other building materials due to uninspected and unidentified chain slings; and
  • Impalement hazards from unprotected steel rods protruding from the concrete building foundation.

All of those violations carry a total of $196,200 in proposed fines.

'Knowing, Ongoing Disregard'

"The large penalties proposed in these cases reflect the gravity and recurring nature of these hazards, and demonstrate this employer's knowing, active and ongoing disregard for its workers' safety," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's New England regional administrator.

"Falls remain the number-one killer in construction work. Employers who deliberately and repeatedly fail to supply and ensure the use of effective fall protection safeguards are repeatedly gambling with their workers' lives."

Twin Pines Construction Inc. has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections of recalcitrant employers that commit willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. The program allows OSHA to inspect any of the employer's facilities if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations.

Violation History

Twin Pines has an extensive history with OSHA.

Seabrook Village Hotel

Twin Pines/Teles features its work on the 20-unit Seabrook Village Hotel in Seabrook Beach, MA. The company provides roofing, siding and framing.

OSHA records show that the company's sites were inspected three times in 2012, four times in 2011, and once each in 2010 and 2009. All but one of those inspections resulted in citations—33 in all.

Fines from all of the cases total more than $146,000, and most of the cases still show as open in OSHA's records. The earliest case, from 2009, was settled for a $2,000 fine, reduced from the original fine of $4,800 for five serious violations.

In a decision filed last year by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission on one of Twin Pines' appeals, lawyers for the Department of Labor said Fernandes "has been inattentive and unresponsive to the case and has repeatedly ignored Court orders."

The agency said that it had been unable to contact the company, which has "an extensive history where it has consistently disregarded Commission Rules of Procedure and judge's orders in this and other cases."

Representatives of the company did not file required documents, exhibits or responses and did not attend scheduled appearances and conference calls, said the commission, an independent agency that hears OSHA appeals.

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Certifications and standards; Commercial contractors; Enforcement; Fall protection; Health and safety; OSHA; Residential contractors; Roofing contractors

Comment from M. Halliwell, (9/18/2013, 12:29 PM)

Ok....I don't want to jump to conclusions here and I'd certainly like to hear the Twin Pines / Teles response, but the sheer number of citations in the last 5 years would give me pause if I ever needed to work with these guys. The allegation that they've been ignoring OSHA and court orders just adds to it. Heaven forbid that they should have a fatality....but if they did, is it not possible that Fernandes could face involuntary manslaughter charges in Mass? The history of the company could be seen as meeting the requirement for a "disregard for the harmful consequences to another person so as to rise to the level of wanton or reckless conduct." (Homicide in Massachusettes: An Introduction, Chapter 1, Colette T. Tvedt, Esq., Suffolk University Law School, Boston) in such a fatality. I mean, really, what will it take before the folks cutting corners on safety will get the point?


Comment from peter gibson, (9/18/2013, 12:44 PM)

Why don't the workers talk up; maybe they are too dumb to recognize the hazards. This Fernandez guy has a real attitude.


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