A New York roofing contractor faces $61,600 in fines for exposing unprotected workers to falls of up to 17 feet and other safety violations—the company's fourth such case in four years.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued citations for five alleged violations—one willful, two repeat, and two serious—against Michael C. Graham & Son Construction, of Syracuse, NY.
Falls are the leading cause of death in construction, OSHA says.
An OSHA inspection in April found employees staging roofing materials and stripping shingles without guardrails, safety nets, or personal fall-protection equipment at a construction site in Liverpool, NY.
The company (also known as Michael C. Graham Construction Inc.) did not return a call requesting comment Monday (Nov. 12).
OSHA said inadequate fall protection at the residential site resulted in one alleged willful citation carrying $24,200 in fines.
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, according to OSHA.
The agency also issued citations for two alleged repeat violations for failing to train workers on fall hazards and allowing workers to access a roof using a ladder that did not extend at least three feet above the landing surface, as required for stability. Those citations carry $33,000 in proposed fines.
A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation at any other facility in federal enforcement states within five years.
Similar violations were cited at company work sites in North Syracuse in 2011 and 2012, as well as at a site in Liverpool in 2008, according to OSHA. The earlier cases—totaling one willful, six serious and four repeat violations and $71,870 in fines—remain open.
The new case also includes two serious violations: for operating a circular saw and various other power tools that were connected to an ungrounded extension cord and receptacle and for using a ladder that was not equally supported by two ladder rails, OSHA said.
The agency proposed $4,400 in fines for those citations.
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: ‘Not Unusual’
“Unfortunately, this is not an unusual situation,” said Christopher Adams, OSHA’s Syracuse area director. “Too often, we encounter work sites where fall protection is inadequate or absent, exposing workers to the No. 1 killer in construction work.”
To combat this reality, the agency has launched the “Stop Falls” campaign to remind employers and employees of what they can do to eliminate fall hazards at their work sites.
“I’m calling upon employers in central New York to review their fall protection programs, provide effective fall protection, and ensure that their employees are trained to recognize and address fall hazards,” Adams added.
OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are working with trade associations, labor unions, employers, universities, community and faith-based organizations, and consulates to provide employers and workers—especially vulnerable, low-literacy workers—with education and training on common-sense fall prevention equipment and strategies that save lives, OSHA noted.
Michael C. Graham & Sons Construction has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet informally with the OSHA area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The roofing and siding company has served Central New York for more than 75 years, according to the company’s website.