OSHA Actions in First Quarter of 2020: $6 Million in Fines, a Prison Sentence, Contempt and Retaliation Charges
Federal OSHA fines from January to March 2020 totaled $5,869,983. OSHA inspections resulted in 22 significant fines (over $100,000) in that period, as well as a 30-day prison sentence and a contempt charge. Fines ranged from $102,905 in compensation to a wrongfully terminated employee to just over $1 million for egregious fall hazards at a Florida roofing contractor. Dollar Tree was once again cited for violations at stores in several states.
Common citations included fall, chemical, explosion and confined space hazards. Here are details on the highest OSHA fines proposed in the first quarter. Many are still pending final decisions.
Contempt charge for failing to pay $2 million in penalties against a Florida roofing contractor
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit has found Great White Construction Inc., Florida Roofing Experts Inc. and owner Travis Slaughter of Jacksonville in contempt of court for failing to pay $2,202,049 in OSHA penalties. The final orders include multiple egregious, willful and repeat violations for lack of fall protection and other safety and health hazards at worksites in Florida. The court held the companies and Slaughter in civil contempt in January, ordering the companies and Slaughter to pay the outstanding penalties plus interest and fees, and requiring them to certify that they had corrected the violations within 10 days of the court’s order. If the companies and Slaughter fail to comply, they face jail time and other relief. OSHA has investigated the companies 19 times within the last seven years, resulting in 42 citations related to improper fall protection, ladder use, and eye protection. It recently slapped the company with an additional $1 million fine. Read more.
$1,007,717 and SVEP for repeat egregious fall hazards by the same Florida roofing contractor
OSHA again cited Florida Roofing Experts Inc., owned by Travis Slaughter, for failing to protect workers from falls at two work sites. OSHA initiated the inspections after receiving complaints of employees performing residential re-roofing activities without fall protection. Given the employer’s extensive history of violations, pursuant to OSHA’s egregious citation policy, the agency issued eight willful citations for failing to protect employees from fall hazards. “This employer has an extensive OSHA history with willful, serious, and repeat violations that has demonstrated an egregious disregard for the safety of their workers,” said OSHA. Learn more.
$605,371 for fall hazards by a Pennsylvania roofing contractor
Webb Contractor Corp. was cited for exposing employees to fall hazards at three separate worksites. OSHA initiated an inspection after a compliance officer observed employees performing residential roofing work without fall protection. The employer voluntarily agreed to remove employees from the hazardous condition. OSHA later responded to complaints of fall hazards and initiated two additional inspections, which resulted in eight willful, two repeat, and three serious safety violations for failure to provide fall protection and exposing employees to safety hazards. Read more.
$477,089 for exit, storage and fire hazards at a Wisconsin Dollar Tree Store
OSHA inspectors found the company exposed employees to fire hazards from obstructed and unmarked exit routes and blocked fire extinguishers, and failed to maintain fire extinguishers. The employer also exposed employees to struck-by hazards caused by unstable stacks of stored merchandise, and fire and electrical hazards associated with blocked electrical panels. OSHA cited the retailer for one other-than-serious, two repeat and three willful violations. See details.
$371,276 for electrical, explosion and other hazards at a Delaware rail car tank facility
OSHA cited Dana Rail Care for workplace safety and health hazards after receiving a complaint of numerous safety and health hazards. OSHA inspectors identified electrical and explosion hazards, insufficient means of egress, use of defective powered industrial trucks, lack of medical clearance for respiratory protection use, improper use of respirators and inadequate secondary air supply and lack of signage in a silica-regulated area. This is the second time in recent months that OSHA has cited Dana Rail Care for safety and health violations. The company has contested that citation and the proposed penalties. Get more details.
$339,702 for multiple hazards at a Missouri charcoal manufacturer
Royal Oak Enterprises was cited for exposing employees to multiple safety and health hazards at company facilities in Branson and Summersville, Missouri. OSHA cited the Branson facility for 19 serious violations for exposing employees to confined space entry, electrical, housekeeping, hearing, and forklift hazards; deficiencies in lockout/tagout; inadequate machine guarding; and failure to mount a fire extinguisher. The Summersville facility received 10 serious violations for electrical and forklift hazards, accumulation of combustible material and exposing employees to silica dust. Read more.
$296,861 for exit and storage hazards at a Pennsylvania Dollar Tree Store
Dollar Tree Stores Inc. was cited for exit and storage hazards at a store in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Responding to a complaint, OSHA inspectors found blocked emergency exits, unsecured compressed gas cylinders, unsanitary bathrooms, electrical panels not properly maintained and materials stacked unsafely. OSHA cited Dollar Tree for two willful, one repeat and two other-than-serious violations for these conditions. See citation details.
$280,874 for toxic hexavalent chromium fume exposure at a Pennsylvania hydraulic shop
OSHA cited Cleveland Brothers Inc., doing business as CB HYMAC, for exposing workers to hexavalent chromium fumes and other safety hazards at the company’s shop in Camp Hill. OSHA cited one willful violation and 18 serious and two other-than-serious citations after receiving a complaint of overexposure to the toxic chemical. OSHA also cited the company for failing to train employees on the hazards of hexavalent chromium, and maintain a respiratory protection program. Review the citations.
$244,777 following a fatal construction fall in Pennsylvania
OSHA cited CLF Construction Inc. and Toll Brothers Inc. for exposing employees to fall hazards after a CLF employee suffered fatal injuries in a fall at a worksite in Media, Pennsylvania. OSHA proposed $170,560 in penalties for subcontractor CLF Construction, and $74,217 for general contractor Toll Brothers. The employee fell 20 feet from a residential structure as he did framing work. OSHA cited Toll Brothers with one repeat violation for failing to ensure that the framing subcontractor provided employees with fall protection. OSHA cited CLF for one serious violation and two willful violations for failing to provide and require the use of proper fall protection systems, and not developing and implementing an accident prevention program to assist in identifying and correcting hazardous conditions during residential construction activities. See CLF citations and Toll Brothers citations.
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$240,880 for hall and struck-by hazards by an Alabama roofing contractor
Jaime Martinez Hernandez was cited for exposing employees to fall and struck-by hazards at two Alabama worksites. OSHA conducted inspections in conjunction with the agency’s Regional Emphasis Program for Falls in Construction after investigators observed employees working from heights without fall protection at two locations. Citations include failing to train employees on fall hazards, allowing employees to engage in framing activities without fall protection and not requiring them to wear eye protection when using pneumatic nail guns. In addition, OSHA cited the contractor for allowing employees to use a ladder that did not extend at least 3 feet past the upper landing of a structure and use of the top step of an A-frame ladder. OSHA has inspected this contractor six times in the past five years, citing him for willful, repeat and serious violations for lack of eye and fall protection, and other fall-related hazards. Read more.
$228,592 and SVEP following a grain bin fatality in Nebraska
Interstate Commodities – based in Troy, New York – was cited for grain handling violations after an employee was fatally engulfed in a grain bin at the company’s Fremont, Nebraska, facility in September 2019. The company has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP). OSHA alleges that the company violated grain handling standards by allowing the employee to enter the bin without a harness and lifeline. OSHA cited seven repeat and 10 serious safety and health violations involving hazards associated with grain handling, falls, respiratory protection, powered industrial trucks and electrical safety. Review the citations.
$227,304 for blocked emergency exits at two Massachusetts Target stores
OSHA cited Target Corp. for emergency exit access hazards at stores in Danvers and Framingham, Massachusetts after inspectors found fire exit routes in backroom storage areas blocked by objects, such as packing boxes, products, rolling carts, metal bars, portable ladders and a powered industrial truck. Since 2015, OSHA has cited Target Corp. for similar hazards at 11 stores in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. Review citations for the Danvers store and the Framingham store.
Eleven OSHA Fines from January to March 2020 were less than $200,000:
- $171,628 for lead, copper and other hazards at Wisconsin facility.
- $169,524 and SVEP following a crane-related injury at a New Jersey aluminum manufacturer.
- $162,688 for amputation and other hazards at a Florida manufacturer.
- $159,118 following a teen worker’s fatal fall at an Alabama roofer.
- $154,693 whistleblower compensation at a Connecticut commercial motor carrier.
- $148,867 for amputation and struck-by hazards at a Georgia mulch manufacturer.
- $132,600 for safety management hazards after a fire and explosion at a Pennsylvania refinery.
- $128,004 following a fatal struck-by incident at a Georgia farm.
- $114,294 for fall hazards at a Florida roofing contractor.
- $106,029 for trip and fall hazards at an Alabama Dollar Tree Store.
- $102,905 settlement for whistleblower violations by a Michigan school district.
30 Days in Prison for willful fall protection hazards by a Florida framing contractor
The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Fort Myers Division, has sentenced Stalin Rene Barahona – former owner of the now-dissolved SB Framing Services Inc. in Naples, Florida – to 30 days in prison. Barahona pleaded guilty to one count of willfully violating federal fall protection standards. In 2015, OSHA investigated after an employee fatally fell while doing construction work at a residence. OSHA cited the company for a willful violation for failing to ensure the use of a fall protection system, and a serious violation for failing to train employees to recognize potential fall hazards. Read more.
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