NY Roofing Contractor Faces Nearly $160,000 in Fines



Buffalo, NY (WorkersCompensation.com) - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited A.M. Stern Inc. for alleged willful, repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards while workers installed a roof on O'Connor Road in Fairport. The Rochester-based roofing contractor faces a total of $159,250 in proposed fines, chiefly for fall hazards identified during an inspection by OSHA's Buffalo Area Office that began on July 10.

On two occasions during the investigation, OSHA inspectors observed Stern employees exposed to falls of 15 to 30 feet while working at the unprotected edges of the building's roof. The designated safety monitor on-site was not positioned close enough to employees working in unprotected sections, so that he could warn them about the fall hazards. As a result, OSHA issued A.M. Stern one willful citation with a $70,000 fine for the lack of fall protection and one repeat citation, also with a $70,000 fine, for the improperly located safety monitor. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. A similar violation was issued in August 2008 at a Geneseo worksite.

The contractor was also issued five serious citations, carrying $19,250 in fines, for not providing medical evaluations and training for employees required to wear respirators, allowing an untrained employee to operate a forklift, not providing employees with information and training on hazardous chemicals, and for the safety monitor's failure to warn employees of fall hazards. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

"Unfortunately, our inspectors all too often encounter job sites where fall protection is inadequate or absent, exposing workers to the number one killer in construction work," said Arthur Dube, OSHA's Buffalo area director. "It's imperative that employers in western New York and elsewhere provide effective fall protection for their employees and ensure that their workers are trained to recognize and address fall hazards."

OSHA has created a Stop Falls Web page at http://www.osha.gov/stopfalls with detailed information in English and Spanish on fall protection standards. The page offers fact sheets, posters and videos that vividly illustrate various fall hazards and appropriate preventive measures.

"This is about saving lives," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator for New York. "When employees lack effective fall protection, they are just one slip, trip or misstep away from a deadly or disabling injury. We urge employers to take their responsibility for providing a safe workplace seriously. One means of doing so is to develop and maintain an effective safety and health management system to systemically address hazards."

The citations can be viewed online at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/AM_Stern_citation.pdf.*

A.M. Stern Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet informally with the OSHA area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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