OSHA was busy during the third quarter on 2019 issuing fines for all types of hazards and violations. From trenching to excavation hazards, some of these construction sites were far from safe for workers. One issue also deals with asbestos, which is a dangerous material that requires careful removal in order to keep workers and the area safe.
OSHA Gets New Director
The Labor Department named a new Directorate of Construction (DOC), Scott Ketcham. With over 20 years of experience, Scott comes to the job with a strong construction background. This agency is tasked with investigating OSHA violations, but it also investigates construction accidents, such as the collapse of the pedestrian bridge at Florida International University.
Polo Masonry Builders of Park Ridge, Illinois, Fined $252,136
Polo was cited with some of the biggest fines of the year for not protecting its workers from scaffolding hazards. This is not new for them. They’ve been cited 13 times since 2010 for numerous OSHA violations. Some of them were considered “repeat” violations and this led to OSHA enrolling Polo in their Severe Violator Enforcement Program. This program helps construction supervisors understand the risks and take them more seriously. It is designed to prevent deaths and injuries at construction sites.
R.V. Wagner Inc. of St. Louis, Missouri, Fined: $212,158
R.V. Wagner Inc. often works on underground jobs that require excavation. This type of work can be very dangerous for workers. There’s constant worry that the walls could literally collapse in the underground project and trap workers. OSHA inspectors found some very disconcerting problems while Wagner was installing concrete storm-water pipes in St. Louis. For one thing, the company wasn’t providing helmets to workers. They were also allowing heavy objects to be moved over the heads of workers. They discovered there was no safe means of egress from trench excavations more than 4 feet deep.
REH Property Maintenance of Jamestown, New York, Fined: $168,772
REH Property Maintenance has been fined 19 times for violations related to improper asbestos removal and disposal. OSHA recently issued citations for 14 willful violations and five serious ones. The company has been accused over and over, of not using proper engineering control while removing asbestos. They were also cited for not providing the right type of aspirator equipment for workers.
OSHA Willing to Negotiate
Most companies who receive these fines will file a formal protest and often, the fines are lowered. It’s sometimes possible to negotiate with OSHA for reduced fines regardless of guilt.