OSHA Visits Contractor 3 Times in 33 Days, Subs Don’t Want To Come Back
A remodeling contractor in Cabin John, MD was visited three different times by the same OSHA inspector within a 33 day period on a Washington DC project. The fines come to a total of $8000. However he was told if he is willing to pay up within 15 days, not put up a fight about the charges, and make the required corrective actions, our government will give him a 25% discount. The citation letter he received from the OSHA inspector also let him know that information about the citation would be published on the internet at www.osha.gov after 30 days.
Mark Scott, president of Mark IV Builders, told me he chalks it up to just another cost of doing business. Fortunately for him his business is large enough to absorb such costs. However it has put some fear into his employees as well as his sub contractors. Both were found in violation of OSHA requirements when the inspector stopped by. One sub, who was also cited for the same violations and fines, doesn’t want to come back to the job site, fearing additional visits and fines.
All considered “serious violations” by OSHA, here are the violations as well as the fines for each:
- One employee was found using a table saw without using safety glasses. This offense came with a $1200 fine. The inspector noted the violation was corrected during inspection.
- Another employee was working without a hard hat in an area where possible head injury could occur due to falling or flying objects. This violation triggered a $1200 fine. The inspector noted the violation was corrected during inspection.
- Three sub contractor employees were each found to be using separate damaged extension cords. Again, another $1200 fine.
- A sub contractor was observed working more than 6' off the ground without proper fall protection in place, in two different areas at the job site. This triggered a $2800 fine.
- A sub contractor was standing on the top step of a 4’ step ladder. This offence came with a $1600 fine.
- Both employees and subs, while doing drywall installation, were found to be using a GFI wall outlet without a cover plate on it. For some reason no fine was assessed for this violation.
What will the company do differently?
Unlike many remodeling businesses Mark IV has already embraced worker safety and OSHA requirements. All company employees have the safety equipment needed to do their work as well as the required training to use it. In fact Mark told me he worked with his insurance company to make sure he was in compliance and has several letters from them stating what an excellent job his company has done in regards to worker safety.
I asked Mark what he plans to do differently now after having been written up and fined. His answer was; “Not much. My employees have the equipment and know what they should and should not be doing. It’s part of playing the game of being in business”.
One thing Mark says he will do is look into how his company and his employees should handle and manage future OSHA visits.
What does Mark suggest to other contractors?
Mark shared that his first experience with OSHA was back in 1979 when working as a project supervisor. An OSHA inspector showed up at the job site with three books under his arm. Mark said the inspector greeted him with; “You’re going to get a fine today. I’ve got three books here and I’m sure I can find something in one of them”.
In Mark’s opinion OSHA has no intention of proactively helping businesses comply. He suggests taking advantage of what your insurance provider has to offer to help with worker safety and OSHA compliance. In his experience most of the help offered has been free and can even help manage a contractor’s insurance costs.
Check out this OSHA compliance checklist for contractors.