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Roofing contractor misses safety hearing, citations upheld

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An administrative law judge of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission has affirmed citations and proposed fines issued against a Massachusetts roofing contractor who failed to show at his scheduled commission hearing.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration dispatched a compliance officer to a worksite of William Trahant Jr. Construction Inc. in Lynn, Massachusetts, after an anonymous caller reported alleged fall protection violations in October 2014, according to commission documents. The agency issued three citations to the roofing contractor alleging violations of OSHA’s construction standards after the compliance officer observed several workers without fall protection or hard hats and proposed a total penalty of $43,560.

Although Mr. Trahant Jr. filed a timely notice to contest the citations, he did not appear at a January 2016 hearing or file a post-hearing brief. In his absence, the judge found in favor of the agency and affirmed the citations, including a willful citation for failing to protect employees from falling while working on a roof greater than six feet above a lower level and a serious citation issued in part because employees working below roofers who were discarding roofing materials into a dumpster were not protected by hard hats.

“The evidence establishes that (the employer’s) workers were working beneath flying roof debris and thus exposed to a possible danger of head injury from the impact of the roof,” the judge wrote in the ruling.

The judge also affirmed the proposed penalties, agreeing that the company's failure to provide its roofers with any form of fall protection or training demonstrates that it is not entitled to any credit for good faith in the penalty assessment.

“The court also finds that the gravity of these violations is high,” the judge said. “All of the safety hazards here had a high likelihood of injury and could have been readily mitigated, but (the employer) chose not to use simple precautions in the interest of getting the job done.”

The commission has adopted the administrative law judge’s decision as a final order as of July 27.

A company spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment.