This week, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited F&G Sons Contractors, Inc.—based in Patterson, N.J.—for numerous workplace safety violations, many of which were repeat offenses. And the company was fined over $70,000. The citations involved “scaffolding and fall hazards,” such as unsecured scaffolds and lack of necessary guardrails or other types of required fall protections. Repeat violators are companies that are cited for the same or similar infractions more than once within a five year period. And F&G had violated these rules in 2009 and again in 2010.
The company was also cited with a “serious-violation penalty” when investigators found a very dangerous pump-jack scaffold. The scaffold had been poorly braced. And OSHA stated that there was a “substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from the hazard.”
As a result, the company is now a part of OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP). Violators that are put on this list are given special scrutiny. And they are required to undergo various follow-up inspections.
According to OSHA, “[t]he SVEP is intended to focus enforcement efforts on significant hazards and violations by concentrating inspection resources on employers who have demonstrated recalcitrance or indifference to their OSH Act obligations by committing willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations” in a number of circumstances.
Indeed, investigations and citations like these are crucial to minimize workplace injuries before they happen. And when workers are not needlessly injured, they don’t have to seek payments from workers’ compensation insurers. One article on this incident (http://workers-compensation.blogspot.com/2013/03/stucco-contractor-in-nj-receives-osha.html) noted that falls from scaffolding cause some of the most serious workplace injuries and thus “result in major workers’ compensation cases.”
Hopefully, employers will be vigilant and maintain safe work environments—not just out of fear of OSHA ands its fines—but out of care for their employees.
For more on OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, see http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=DIRECTIVES&p_id=4503#VII. For more on this investigation, see http://www.northjersey.com/news/198477871_Contractor_facing__70_000_fine_for_alleged_safety_violations_at_job_site_in_Kinnelon.html.