Notable OSHA Region 1 Enforcement Activities
Latest news from OSHA Region 1: Federal workplace safety and health inspectors have cited a Massachusetts construction company after a worker suffered serious injuries after he fell almost 19 feet from a Portsmouth roof.
Responding to a complaint, OSHA initiated an inspection of Paramo Daniela Construction of Brockton and found that the employer had:
- Instructed an employee to disconnect his personal fall-arrest system from its anchor point so the employee could pass roofing tiles to his employer.
- Failed to provide a guardrail system, safety net, personal fall arrest system, or alternative fall protection measures.
- Did not train employees to recognize the hazards of falling and how to follow safety procedures intended to prevent falling.
- Failed to notify OSHA of a work-related in-patient hospitalization within 24 hours.
Six workers have died in Rhode Island from work-related falls since 2014.
"Considering this employer has been cited five times in the past five years, he should be well-aware that the employee was supposed to have been tied off," says Patrick Griffin, Providence OSHA area director.
"The employer deliberately exposed the employee to a fall hazard instead of ensuring that employees followed safety requirements."
Falls are a leading cause of death among construction workers. Six workers have died in Rhode Island from work-related falls since 2014.
OSHA has an ongoing fall prevention campaign to educate and encourage employers to prevent falls by training workers to use safety equipment.
Truck Driver Fired for Refusing to Violate Safety Regs
A truck driver concerned he couldn't complete his delivery from Massachusetts to New Jersey and back without violating federal safety regulations and putting himself and others at risk thought he'd devised a solution to deliver his cargo on-time and comply with the regulations.
However, his employer fired him, alleging insubordination.
The law is clear: Drivers have the right to raise legitimate safety concerns to their employer without fear of termination or other retaliation.
OSHA is ordering the Cherry Hill, New Jersey-based company to reinstate the driver, pay him more than $276,000 in back wages and damages, and take other corrective action.
NFI assigned the driver to deliver a truckload of Poland Spring bottled water from Northborough, Massachusetts, to Jersey City, New Jersey, on Aug. 15, 2012.
Due to a severe thunderstorm, flooded roads, heavy traffic, and motor vehicle accidents, the trip took significantly longer than normal.
The driver believed that he lacked sufficient time to complete the delivery and return home without violating the hours of service restrictions contained in the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations.
To address the situation, he delivered the load to a closer customer facility in nearby Kearny, New Jersey.
NFI objected to the driver delivering the load to Kearny, and shortly after the delivery arrived in Kearny, arrangements were made to have a different NFI driver drive the load to Jersey City.
Both NFI and the customer approved the new arrangement. The load was delivered and the driver was able to return to Northborough without violating the hours of service restrictions or posing a risk.
Rather than receiving credit for doing the right thing, he received a pink slip.
"This driver found a way to do his job and ensure motor carrier safety. Rather than receiving credit for doing the right thing, he received a pink slip," says Kim Stille, OSHA's New England regional administrator.
"The law is clear: Drivers have the right to raise legitimate safety concerns to their employer—including refusing to violate safety regulations—without fear of termination or other retaliation. NFI must reverse its actions and compensate this driver for the financial and other losses he has suffered as a result of his illegal termination."
As a result of its findings, OSHA is ordering NFI Interactive Logistics to take the following corrective actions:
- Immediately reinstate the driver to his former position, with all rights, seniority, pay raises and benefits to which he was entitled absent the discharge.
- Pay the driver $126,870 in back pay and interest covering the period from August 17, 2012 to June 7, 2016, plus additional amounts accruing up to the day the company makes the driver a bona fide offer of reinstatement.
- Pay him $50,000 in compensatory damages for pain and suffering, including emotional distress, depression, mental pain, humiliation and embarrassment.
- Pay him $100,000 in punitive damages and also pay his reasonable attorney fees.
- Expunge from all of its files any reference to the discharge, or the driver's exercise of his rights under STAA.
- Make no adverse statements about the driver's termination and/or any of the facts at issue in this case in response to any inquiry regarding his employment with NFI.
- Not retaliate against the driver in any manner for his instituting or causing to be instituted any proceeding under or related to STAA.
- Immediately post in a conspicuous location in its workplace a signed and dated notice to employees informing them of the order and their rights under STAA.
Window Restoration Company Fined for Lead, Other Hazards
Federal workplace safety and health inspectors have cited a Dublin, New Hampshire, window restoration company for exposing workers to unsafe levels of lead, and other hazards.
Over exposure to lead can cause permanent kidney, blood and reproductive damage.
- Exposed employees to lead beyond permissible limits.
- Failed to provide changing and shower areas to employees who worked with lead, significantly increasing the likelihood of contamination outside the immediate work area—such as the lunchroom and break areas—and causing exposure to the chemicals while eating or drinking.
- Allowed lead to accumulate on such surfaces as a lunch table, water dispenser, faucet, light switch and soap dispenser.
- Did not measure the effectiveness of the ventilation system to prevent exposure to lead.
- Failed to make sure employees wore appropriate protective clothing while exposed to lead above permissible levels.
- Did not make sure workers used respirators properly.
- Did not develop or implement a hearing conservation program.
"Over exposure to lead can cause permanent kidney, blood and reproductive damage," said Rosemarie Cole, Concord OSHA area director.
"This employer needs to provide effective safeguards to correct hazards and prevent them from happening again."
OSHA cited Window Master Inc. for several hazards in May 2015. As a result, OSHA has cited the company for six repeat violations as well as for three serious violations of workplace health and safety standards. Proposed penalties total $40,400.
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