OSHA Judge Rules Connecticut Contractor Misclassified Employees

HR & Safety

Following an April 18, 2014, inspection, OSHA cited Royal Construction, owned by David Dzenutis, for seven violations of workplace safety standards at a Farmington worksite.
A total of $20,240 in fines was proposed. Royal Construction filed a notice of contest with the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission in August 2014 and litigation commenced.
Royal Construction claimed that the workers at the jobsite were not employees under the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act but instead independent contractors who worked under their own supervision, supplied their own tools, and made their own hours.
After review, Administrative Law Judge Keith E. Bell found that the Labor Department established the following:

  • Royal Construction had employees at the jobsite, and provided materials, tools, trailer, and equipment needed for the project.
  • Dzenutis had control over the workers and worksite safety.
  • Royal Construction determined when and for how long the individuals worked; the work was done as part of the regular business of Royal Construction.
  • The company paid hourly wages to the individuals working at the site.

Judge Bell also upheld the citations and proposed penalties.

Judge Bell's decision and order upholds a basic tenet of the OSH Act.

"Employers cannot evade their responsibility by claiming that workers on a job site are independent contractors when the facts show otherwise, says Michael Felsen, the regional solicitor of labor for New England.
“We will not hesitate to pursue appropriate legal action to ensure that workers are provided with the safeguards to which they are entitled."
"Judge Bell's decision and order upholds a basic tenet of the OSH Act, the employer/employee relationship,” says Kim Stille, OSHA's regional administrator for New England.
“Employers have a fundamental responsibility to their employees, to provide them with a safe and healthful workplace.”

Connecticut Aircraft Engine Repair Company Exposed Employees to Hexavalent Chromium and Fire Hazard

Budney Overhaul & Repair, Ltd. Inc., specializing in the repair and overhaul of a wide variety of aviation engine and airframe components was found to have several hazards associated with the use and presence of the carcinogen hexavalent chromium* in the workplace. These included:

  • Failure to train employees and provide them information on hexavalent chromium hazards and safeguards
  • Failure to assess and provide personal protective equipment for exposed employees
  • Not requiring employees to remove contaminated clothing at the end of the work shift
  • Allowing employees to enter eating and drinking areas while wearing contaminated clothing

The inspection also identified fire and burn hazards due to improper storage and disposal of flammable materials and failure to remove ignition sources from areas where flammable vapors were present.
On Feb. 19, 2016, OSHA cited the company for twelve serious violations of workplace safety standards.
Proposed penalties: $ 46,287

Stratford Contractor Exposes Employees to Fall, Scaffold Hazards

On Jan. 21, 2016, OSHA cited Whole Life Construction LLC for five repeat and two serious violations of workplace safety standards at a residential roofing job at 121 Anson St. in Bridgeport.
OSHA inspectors found four employees working without fall protection, three atop the roof and one on a scaffold.
These employees faced falls of more than 20 feet and 26 feet, respectively. The rooftop employees had not been trained in fall protection.

Employees faced falls of more than 20 feet.

The scaffold was not properly erected and braced, and employees were not trained to recognize scaffold hazards.
Finally, employees faced electrocution hazards while working too close to energized power lines. OSHA had previously cited Whole Life Construction for similar hazards at work sites in New Haven and Danbury.
The company's latest violations led OSHA to place Whole Life Construction in the agency's Severe Violators Enforcement Program, which focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat, or failure-to-abate violations.
Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer's facilities if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations.
OSHA is proposing a fine of $48,400.

OSHA: Fatal Taunton, Mass, Aerial Lift Tip Over Was 'Preventable'

Kevin Miranda's death could have been prevented if his employer, Skyline Contracting and Roofing Corp. of Taunton, Mass, had followed industry and federal safety standards, an inspection by OSHA has found.
Miranda was operating an aerial lift near Taunton's Morton Hospital on Aug. 18, 2015. The lift's boom was extended to a height of 45 feet when the lift tipped over.
When it did, the operator's basket hit the ground; the force ejected and threw him 16 feet. Miranda subsequently died from his injuries.

The lift was positioned on ground that was not level.

OSHA inspectors found the lift was positioned on ground that was not level, a condition that conflicted with both industry safety standards and the lift's operator manual.
In addition, Miranda's fall protection lanyard was not attached to the basket or boom. They determined his employer had not trained him to recognize this hazard, as required by OSHA standards.
OSHA cited Skyline Contracting and Roofing Corp. on Feb. 12, 2016, for two willful violations and one serious violation.
Proposed fines total $102,900.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

OSHA: Bryant University Structural Steel Collapse 'Needless and Preventable'

The structural steel collapse at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island, that injured six workers on Sept. 1, 2015, could have been prevented, an OSHA inspection has determined.
OSHA found that Barnes Building & Management Group, the Weymouth, Mass, contractor, which was erecting the steel framework for an indoor practice facility at the university, did not erect it according to the manufacturer's plan.
The contractor also failed to install adequate bracing to ensure the framework's structural stability during erection. These conditions led to the collapse and worker injuries.
As a result of these hazards, OSHA issued citations to the company on Feb. 8, 2016, for one willful and one serious violation of workplace safety standards.
Proposed penalties total $59,290.


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