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Judge upholds OSHA citations, fines for lack of fall protection, ladders

Posted On: Jul. 31, 2017 12:29 PM CST

An administrative law judge of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission upheld citations and $4,000 in penalties assessed against a Massachusetts contractor for failing to provide fall protection and appropriate ladders for his workers.

Chris Welch, described in commission documents as a small business owner, employed several individuals who were working on the roof of a house in Springfield, Massachusetts, on March 2016. A U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspector who was driving back to his office after another inspection noticed the men working on the low-sloped roof more than 10 feet off the ground without fall protection and pulled over his vehicle to take a closer look.

The inspector photographed the work site and located the business owner on site, according to documents. He then told Mr. Welch of the violations — ladders and lack of fall protection — and that he would be cited. Mr. Welch later filed a notice of contest, but failed to file arguments legal documents in response. On the day of his hearing, his attorney called in to say that she was sick, according to documents.

The administrative law judge upheld the OSHA citations after finding that the undisputed evidence established both the applicability of the cited standard and the violation and that a fall from the roof could have caused serious physical harm.

The employer “did not have any fall protection, which could have readily been used as a precaution, on the worksite,” the ruling said.

The commission has adopted the administrative law judge’s decision as a final order as of July 14.

A company spokesperson and the listed attorney representing Mr. Welch could not be immediately reached for comment.