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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

OSHA News Release: [08/22/2012]
Contact Name: Ted Fitzgerald or Andre Bowser
Phone Number: (617) 565-2075 or x2074
Release Number: 12-1612-BOS

US Labor Department's OSHA proposes nearly $68,000 in fines to Mass., New Hampshire contractors for fall hazards at Haverhill, Mass., work site

Agency calls on Merrimack Valley contractors to take effective action against falls

ANDOVER, Mass. — Employees at a Haverhill residential construction site were exposed to potentially deadly or disabling falls of up to 16 feet from a roof and a scaffold that lacked fall protection. Conditions found during inspections by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration point to falls as the leading cause of death in construction work. As a result, OSHA is calling upon employers in Massachusetts and the Merrimack Valley to take effective action to reduce and minimize fall hazards.

"Falls are the No. 1 killer in construction work, having taken the lives of more than 250 of this nation's construction workers in 2010 — the latest data available," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's regional administrator in Boston. "To help stop this needless loss of life, OSHA has launched a campaign to remind employers and employees alike of what they can do to eliminate fall hazards at their work sites."

OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are working with trade associations, labor unions, employers, universities, community and faith-based organizations, and consulates to provide employers and workers — especially vulnerable, low-literacy workers — with education and training on common-sense fall prevention equipment and strategies that save lives. OSHA also has created a new fall prevention Web page — http://www.osha.gov/stopfalls — with detailed information in English and Spanish on fall protection standards. The page includes fact sheets, posters and fall prevention videos that vividly illustrate various fall hazards and appropriate preventive measures.

Inspections by OSHA's Andover Area Office at the Haverhill work site, located at 75 Cedar St., resulted in citations issued to two contractors: Juan Acero, doing business as Speedy 3 Construction of Lowell, Mass., and Edmunds General Contracting of Salem, N.H. Inspectors found that workers were exposed to fall hazards, adequate fall protection training had not been provided, a ladder was being misused to support the scaffolding and a damaged ladder had not been removed from service. Workers also were exposed to laceration hazards from an unguarded air compressor. Finally, Edmunds failed to have the site inspected for hazards by a competent person, that is, one with the knowledge to identify hazards and the authority to have them corrected.

Speedy 3 Construction has been issued citations with $36,960 in fines for five repeat and two serious violations, while Edmunds General Contracting was issued citations with $30,900 in fines for two repeat and six serious violations. OSHA cited Speedy 3 Construction for similar hazards in 2011 and 2012 at sites in Lawrence, Peabody and West Newton, Mass., and Edmunds was cited in 2011 for similar hazards at sites in Lawrence and Peabody. Proposed fines for both contactors total $67,860.

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. 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.

"What's frustrating is that these employers had been cited before for fall-related hazards but allowed the hazards to recur," said Jeffrey Erskine, OSHA's area director for Middlesex and Essex counties. "These hazards could have been prevented by planning ahead to do the job safely, providing workers with proper equipment, and training them to recognize and address fall hazards."

Each employer has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Andover office at 978-837-4460.

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.