OSHA News Release: [06/10/2011]
Contact Name: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone Number: (617) 565-2074
Release Number: 11-0778-BOS
US Department of Labor's OSHA proposes more than $243,000 in fines against Lewiston, Maine, contractor for egregious fall hazards, other violations
Lessard Brothers Construction employees exposed to 23-foot falls
AUGUSTA, Maine A Lewiston roofing contractor with a long history of violating workplace safety standards faces a total of $243,360 in proposed fines from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration following a December 2010 inspection that resulted in citations for alleged egregious willful, serious and repeat violations for a lack of fall protection and other hazards. OSHA previously had cited Lessard Brothers Construction Inc. and its predecessor, Lessard Roofing & Siding Inc., 10 times for fall protection violations at various Maine work sites.
OSHA inspectors found four Lessard employees exposed to potentially life-threatening falls of 23 feet while working without fall protection on a steep-pitched roof at a work site on Elm Street in Lewiston. Due to management's knowledge of the hazard and the required safeguards, along with the company's extensive history of violations, Lessard was cited for four egregious willful violations with $224,000 in proposed fines. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
"This employer ignored the law and put workers' lives at risk," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "OSHA's commonsense regulations save lives. Employers who ignore these regulations and endanger their employees will face the consequences."
In addition, Lessard was cited for two serious violations with $10,560 in proposed fines for an electrical hazard, and for failing to train workers on electrical hazards and fall protection. The company also was cited for one repeat violation with a proposed fine of $8,800 for a lack of hard hat protection.
A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. The repeat citation stems from OSHA having cited the company in January 2010 for a similar hazard at a Bath, Maine, work site.
"Falls are the number one killer in construction work," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's New England regional administrator. "Employees in situations such as this are just one slip, trip or misstep away from a fatal or disabling fall. Responsible employers must ensure that effective fall protection measures are in place and in use every day on every job site."
This significant enforcement action qualifies Lessard Brothers Construction for OSHA's Severe Violators Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. Initiated in 2010, SVEP focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. For more information on the program, visit http://www.osha.gov/dep/svep-directive.pdf.
Detailed information on fall protection hazards and safeguards is available online at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/fallprotection/construction.html.
Since Oct. 28, 2010, according to Maine's workers' compensation insurance verification system, Lessard Brothers Construction has been without workers' compensation insurance coverage.
The employer 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. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Augusta Area Office; telephone 207-626-9160. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.