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An administrative law judge of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission has upheld citations and a $16,000 penalty issued against a West Virginia construction company because of the owner’s “plain indifference” to fall hazards.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspected a residential construction worksite of Morgantown, West Virginia-based 3-D Builders L.L.P. after receiving an anonymous complaint in November 2015, resulting in the assessment of a serious and a willful citation, according to commission documents in Secretary of Labor v. 3-D Builders L.L.P. The citations, which the company contested, alleged violations of OSHA’s construction standards regarding ladders and fall protection required for employees engaged in residential construction activities.
A hearing was held on Jan. 25, 2017, but a company representative did not attend or participate, according to commission documents. At the hearing, the Department of Labor withdrew an item of the serious citation alleging a violation of the standard related to training requirements for employees using ladders.
The company’s owner, Shawn Davis, had a heightened awareness of the OSHA fall protection requirements and roofing work hazards when fall protection is not used — an awareness supported by several statements he made during his OSHA inspection interview, according to the judge, who affirmed the citations.
Mr. Davis stated that he had been in the business for more than 20 years and knew that OSHA required fall protection for any work done at a height of over 6 feet and when working on a roof. He also said he had fallen off roofs in the past, but that his employees weren’t wearing fall protection on this worksite because it was “a pain in the ass” and the ropes get tangled around hoses and feet, according to the commission documents. Mr. Davis admitted that on most jobs they do not wear fall protection.
“Mr. Davis’ bold admissions in his OSHA interview statement are unrebutted,” the judge said. “Mr. Davis consciously disregarded the OSHA fall protection requirements. Recklessly, Mr. Davis had the 3-D Builders’ roofers work at heights, without any fall protection, exposing them to disabling injuries and potentially death from falls. Mr. Davis’ interview statements disclose plain indifference to the fall hazards to which the roofers were exposed.”
The administrative law judge’s decision became a final order of the commission on Monday.
Mr. Davis could not be immediately reached for comment.
An administrative law judge of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission has affirmed citations against an Indiana construction company after an employee was injured after falling through an unguarded hole and assessed $6,500 in total penalties.