NJ Contractor Slapped With Over $1 Million In Fines For Safety Violations

                               

Palisades Park, NJ (Workerscompensation.com) – Five investigations into a New Jersey framing company has resulted in penalties of $1,997,125. OSHA proposed the penalties against the BB Frame LLC. After citing the Palisades Park, N.J. company, which has been operating under the name Frame Q and its owner and principal, Juan Quevedo, for exposing employees to an array of safety hazards at four worksites in Bergen County. 

Frame Q allegedly had failed to pay the Department of Treasury more than $678,053 in civil penalties and delinquency fees. The Department of Justice (DOJ) in February 2019 filed a lawsuit against the company.  OSHA had imposed fines between 2013 and 2017 for dozens of violations, including ladder safety as well as lack of fall protection.  Not ong after the DOJ had filed its suit, Juan Quevedo dissolved Frame Q LLC. However, he continued his business but under the name Frame Q while using the BB Frame corporate entity.

In December 2019, OSHA conducted an investigation following a complaint received at a worksite located in Cliffside Park.  The company was cited for 9 safety violations and was hit with $520,860 in proposed penalties. The agency also conducted another investigation at a different job site in Fort Lee, resulting in five citations and a proposed penalty of $426,785.

Among the serious violations at the Fort Lee job site were: 

  • During construction, alteration, or repairs, debris was not kept cleared from work areas, passageways, and stairs, in and around buildings or other structures
  • Combustible products such as wood was stored, cut and used on site to frame a residential structure. Gasoline fueled generators and compressors powered electric tools such as circular saws and nail guns to perform framing activities. Extra gasoline was stored in gas cans on the site.
Willful violations included:
  • Failing to ensure that affected employees used appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to hazards from flying particles.
  • An employee was exposed to fall hazards of approximately six feet while accessing the working surface by stepping on the top step and top of a stepladder.
  • In addition to those citations OSHA also cited BB Frame for the following repeated violation:
  • Employees were exposed to struck-by hazards while an all-terrain forklift was being operated by an employee who had not been trained and evaluated on the safe operation of forklifts.

In January, OSHA also launched an investigation into another location in Cliffside Park and hit the company with a $405,588 proposed penalty for five safety citations.  A month later, two more investigations had been performed at a Palisades Park job site. OSHA conducted this one as part of the ‘local emphasis program’ that is in place for fall hazards.  The agency issued a handful of citations with a proposed penalty of $274,892, including: 

  • Ladders were used for purposes other than those for which they were designed. A worker who had been working on a building’s second floor was using a step ladder and had one foot on the step ladder and the other foot on the window frame and standing with his back toward the ladder.
  • An employee was exposed to a fall hazard of approximately 10 feet while discarding debris onto plywood set on forks of a rough terrain forklift through an inadequately guarded wall opening.
  • A worker engaged in window wood framing activities was exposed to fall hazards of approximately 25 feet while standing on top of the window frame and a step ladder with no method of fall protection in place
  • An employee was exposed to head injury while installing window framing over his head with a pneumatic nail gun and was not wearing any type of head protection.

The last three were all repeat violations that the company had been cited for. The second investigation had been in response to a complaint, which concluded in a total of 8 violations and a $369,000 proposed penalty.

“This employer’s extensive history of egregious disregard for the safety of workers will not be tolerated,” said OSHA New York Regional Administrator Mendelson in a statement. “Employers are required by law to provide workers with safe and healthful workplaces.”

“Worker safety should be an employer’s top priority every day,” added OSHA Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt. “OSHA has extensive resources to assist employers with providing a workplace free from recognized hazards and complying with occupational safety and health standards.”


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