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Stucco Firm Stuck with $345K in OSHA Fines

Thursday, December 1, 2016

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A Pennsylvania stucco contractor is still facing nearly $345,000 in worker-safety fines after a judge upheld nine violations issued in 2014, but reduced the associated fines by more than $70,000.

J.C. Stucco and Stone Inc., of Lansdowne, PA, which was placed in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Severe Violator Enforcement program in 2011, has been cited 41 times since that year for exposing workers to scaffolding hazards, according to the agency.

Monetary fine
© iStock.com / CatLane

An administrative judge has upheld a total of $344,960 in fines for a Pennsylvania stucco contractor that was issued 9 OSHA violations in 2014.

The latest fines, upheld by an administrative law judge from the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, stem from an inspection in March 2014 and a follow-up in October 2014, each of which found numerous alleged “willful” or “repeat” violations.

J.C. Stucco had an informal hearing with OSHA earlier this year in which the firm agreed to accept the 2014 violations; the total fine amount of $417,200 was under contest, though, as part of the OSHRC hearing. The OSHRC judge ended up affirming $344,960 of fines, reducing the total by $72,240.

2014 Violations

In March 2014, J.C. Stucco was cited for three willful and three repeat violations totaling $235,700 in fines after an inspection at a residential jobsite in Philadelphia. The violations related to alleged inadequate fall protection for employees working from scaffolding; lack of fall-hazard training; failure to develop and implement a hazard communication program, and other scaffolding-related issues.

In October of the same year, a follow-up inspection at another Philadelphia site resulted in three more willful violations, totaling $181,500 in fines. All three violations related to scaffolding requirements.

At the time of the March 2014 citation, J.C. Stucco owner Jose Calle told a local news outlet that “each OSHA inspector has his own view of what constitutes safe scaffolding,” arguing that standards were subjective and arbitrary. The Delaware County Daily Times reported Friday (Nov. 25) that a representative of the company said they would be consulting with an attorney over the new ruling.

Calle did not respond immediately to a request Wednesday (Nov. 30) for comment.

History of Citations

In 2008, J.C. Stucco, also known as J.C. Construction, faced nine serious and one “other” violation as a result of two inspections; the company paid a total of $1,739 in fines that year.

In 2011, the company paid a total of $39,888 in fines stemming from two inspections that uncovered 10 serious and five repeat violations.

scaffold
© iStock.com / tahkani

J.C. Stucco has faced 41 OSHA violations related to scaffolding since 2011, according to the federal agency.

In 2012, the firm was cited four separate times for a total of nine serious and nine repeat violations, leading to a total of $105,680 in fines after informal settlements with OSHA. As of Wednesday (Nov. 30), all of those fines are listed in OSHA’s enforcement database as having been referred to debt collection.

"J.C. Stucco has a long history of leaving workers unprotected from incidents that can cause injuries and possible death and result from falls and unsafe scaffolding," said Theresa Downs, OSHA area director in Philadelphia. "Workers should not have to risk their lives for the sake of a paycheck."

Maximum Fines

The fines affirmed by the new OSHRC ruling were first issued in 2014, and therefore are not governed by the new fine structure put into place by OSHA this year. Some of the 2014 violations were assessed at $70,000 per violation, the maximum that was possible for a willful or repeat violation at the time. The same violations if issued today could carry fines of up to $124,709.

Fall protection and scaffolding violations are among the most commonly cited hazards on American jobsites, according to OSHA. In fiscal year 2016, the agency issued 6,929 citations for fall-protection hazards and 3,906 citations related to scaffolds.

   

Tagged categories: Contractors; Fall protection; Government; Health and safety; Masonry; OSHA; Safety; Scaffolding; Stucco; Violations

Comment from Jesse Melton, (12/1/2016, 8:19 AM)

I always wonder if OSHA follows the same wonky "trickle down" enforcement philosophy that works so well for the DEA and FBI in the wars on "stuff". The strategy that involves standing idly by and watching the law get trampled on and only pursuing cases that involve big numbers AND have no real risk of charges being overturned in court. It's a great thing for everybody but the front page bad guy. Enforcement is so busy with destroying Bob's Stucco, Carpeting and Plumbing they don't even see Jack's Window Washing Co. dangling Mexicans in mop suits from bungee cords one street over.

I wonder if the data exists that would allow one to compare volumes of safety citations in areas where big cases are being prosecuted? The HTML tags are just an experiment.


Comment from Jesse Melton, (12/1/2016, 8:21 AM)

Hey! That's cool.

Did putting the tags in create duplicate posts?


Comment from Jesse Melton, (12/1/2016, 8:21 AM)

Ha!


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