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OSHA: Builder Fails 21 Inspections

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

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A New Jersey contractor with a “callous disregard for its employees” is now facing nearly $900,000 in proposed federal fines, authorities have announced.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has again cited Cinnaminson-based Berlin Builders Inc. for exposing workers to falls and other hazards at a Philadelphia job site.

framing
© iStock.com / Stevecoleimages

Berlin Builders Inc. is a framing subcontractor on many residential construction projects in southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and northern Delaware. The agency found that the company was contracted to frame properties as high as four stories at its latest inspection site.

The latest round of citations add $106,470 in fines to the company’s $789,536 OSHA tab. OSHA says the framing subcontractor has “failed 21 of 27 federal safety inspections over the past 12 months.”

Rolling Dice on Safety

“A developer and contractor that hire this company are truly rolling the dice on worker safety,” said Nicholas DeJesse, director of the agency’s Philadelphia office. “Amid the hazards we have cited, two Berlin Builders’ employees suffered falls in 2015. This employer must make immediate changes before something worse happens.”

News of the latest case against Berlin Builders comes as OSHA holds its third annual National Safety Stand Down to prevent falls in construction.

More than 2 million workers and thousands of companies nationwide are expected to participate in 2016 Stand Down events. A typical Stand Down allows companies to stop work at a designated time to discuss and demonstrate how to the best prevent falls, and to encourage workers to apply these methods consistently.

5 New Violations

OSHA’s latest inspection of Berlin Builders, conducted in October 2015, was prompted by an “imminent danger report” alleging workers were 30 feet or more off the ground working without fall protection.

eye protection
© iStock.com / Xavier Arnau

In addition to exposing workers to dangerous falls, inspectors alleged that the company did not ensure employees used eye protection.

After inspecting the Philadelphia site, OSHA cited the company for one willful, two repeat and two serious alleged hazards. The agency found that the company was contracted to frame residential properties as high as four stories at the site.

Inspectors found workers at risk of fall hazards 38 feet above ground without proper fall protection, and issued a willful citation carrying a $69,300 proposed fine.

The agency also issued citations for the company's alleged failure to:

  • Have a competent person conduct frequent and regular inspections of the site, materials and equipment;
  • Provide a training program for employees exposed to fall hazards;
  • Ensure employees used eye protection while using pneumatic nail guns; and
  • Ensure employees operating rough terrain forklifts were trained and evaluated in the safe operation of the equipment.

Proposed fines for those hazards ranged from $4,500 to $13,860 each.

15 Days

The company could not be reached Tuesday (May 3) for comment and does not have a website.

The company has 15 days from the receipt of its citations to comply, request a conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

The agency has suspected the Berlin Builders of operating under multiple names.

   

Tagged categories: Citations; Enforcement; Fall protection; Hazards; Health and safety; Inspection; OSHA

Comment from M. Halliwell, (5/4/2016, 11:20 AM)

Failed 21 of 27 inspections (~75%) in a year and has nearly $1 million in OSHA fines outstanding and still they operate and get jobs. To be inspected that much, they are either on the severe violators list (means previous issues) or someone is "dropping a dime"...with cause...an awful lot. If they cannot close this recalcitrant company down, then I think every subsequent fall protection violation needs to be upgraded to a criminal charge like assault with intent and every actual fall needs to be attempted murder. Maybe then the company will either take fall protection seriously or will have enough owners/officers in jail to have to shut their doors.


Comment from David Bishton, (6/1/2016, 11:09 PM)

Well said, M. Halliwell.


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