OSHA Issues More Than $110K in Proposed Fines Over Fall Hazards at Easthampton Renovation Project

Four Massachusetts contractors were recently cited by the nation’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) over worker fall hazards at an Easthampton renovation project. According to the agency, OSHA’s Springfield office responded to a dangerous working conditions complaint regarding the project in July 2014. Following an inspection, the four contractors were issued proposed fines totaling more than $110,000 for placing employees at risk of falling up to 40 feet.

OSHA Area Director Mary Hoye stated falls are the leading cause of worker injury and death in Massachusetts and across the United States. In 2010, 35 percent of construction worker deaths in the nation resulted from employee falls. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, at least seven employees were killed in a fall at a Massachusetts construction project in 2012. Unfortunately, employees often suffer tragic disabling or fatal accidents when a workplace lacks sufficient fall protections.

Workers at the renovation project purportedly faced unguarded floor holes, insufficient anchorage, and a general lack of fall protections for individuals who were tasked with working on the building’s roof. In addition, the four companies apparently failed to properly train workers to recognize potential workplace fall hazards.

The bulk of the alleged violations were issued to the Salem-based general contractor that is in charge of the renovation project. The contractor received more than $93,000 in proposed fines for one willful, three serious, and one repeat violations. Generally, a willful violation occurs when an employer intentionally or knowingly disregards a safety regulation or other rule. A serious violation happens when death or severe harm is likely to result from a hazard that an employer knew or should have known about. A repeat violation occurs when an employer is cited for violating the same safety standard more than once within a five-year time period.

In addition to the general contractor’s violations, a heating and air conditioning contractor and masonry subcontractor each received two serious violations regarding their purported failure to guard against worker fall hazards. In addition, a window contractor received one serious violation for failing to protect employees from falling through a hole in a building wall. Previously, OSHA issued nearly $50,000 in proposed fines to a Connecticut-based company over lead, silica, and respirator violations at the same job site.

If you or a loved one was injured in a fall or other accident at work, you may be entitled to receive Massachusetts workers’ compensation benefits. An experienced Boston workers’ compensation lawyer can evaluate whether you have a sound claim and advocate on your behalf to ensure that your employer and its insurer follow the rules or provide you with guidance if there is no insurance available.

The caring attorneys at Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C. are here to help you navigate the process of your worker’s compensation case. To speak with a dedicated Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer, contact Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C. through our website or give us a call today at 800-367-0871.

Additional Resources:

4 contractors expose workers to potentially fatal falls at Easthampton, Massachusetts, renovation project, OSHA Region 1 News Release dated January 12, 2015

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