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OSHA Nails Repeat Offender for $49K

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

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Allowing employees to work at 50-foot heights without fall protection has landed a New Jersey contractor in hot water with federal authorities for the fourth time in five years.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Paterson-based R.E. General Contractor LLC, alleging repeat and serious violations of federal safety standards while workers replaced a church roof in Paterson.

The general contractor faces a total of $49,600 in proposed fines, in the wake of a December 2012 "imminent danger" inspection by OSHA's Hasbrouck Heights Area Office.

CDC - ladder use OSHA - ladders
CDC (left); OSHA (right)

OSHA standards require that ladders extend three feet beyond the landing surface—a standard that the New Jersey general contractor has been accused of violating repeatedly.

Imminent danger inspections occur when conditions present a "reasonable certainty" of death or serious injury before normal enforcement procedures can be followed.

R.E. General Contractor could not be reached Tuesday (July 2) for comment.

Repeat Violations

Two repeat violations, carrying a $46,800 penalty, were cited for exposing workers to fall hazards of about 50 feet while engaged in roofing work without fall protection in place. Workers also used an extension ladder that did not extend at least three feet above the upper landing surface, OSHA reported.

A repeat violation exists when an employer has been cited for the same or a similar violation within five years. OSHA cited similar violations by the same contractor in 2008, 2010 and 2011.

Those cases include:

  • Two repeat fall-protection and ladder citations issued at a residential site in April 2011, carrying $46,200 in fines;
  • Two repeat fall-protection and ladder citations issued at a work site in March 2010, carrying $4,000 in fines.

The earlier cases remain open, according to OSHA's database.

Serious Violation

One serious violation, carrying a $2,800 fine, resulted from the failure to provide workers with hard hat protection while working near the forks of a material boom lift. A serious violation reflects "substantial probability" of death or serious injury  from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

OSHA roof safety

Falls are the leading cause of death among construction workers, and falls from rooftops are the most common type of fall, according to OSHA.

"OSHA will not tolerate this company's continuous disregard for adequate fall protection," said Lisa Levy, director of OSHA's Hasbrouck Heights Area Office.

"Employers have a responsibility to ensure that workers exposed to fall hazards are provided with the proper fall protection equipment, are trained in its use and wear it whenever a fall hazard is present."

OSHA has created a Stop Falls Web page with detailed information in English and Spanish on fall protection standards. The page offers fact sheets, posters and videos that vividly illustrate various fall hazards and appropriate preventive measures.

R.E. General Contractor LLC has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest the case before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


Tagged categories: Churches; Commercial Construction; Fall protection; General contractors; Health and safety; OSHA; Roofing contractors

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