The general contractor for the construction of the Merrimack Premium Outlets shopping mall in Merrimack, N.H., has been accused of violating workplace safety standards. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the contractor, as well as nine other subcontractors, underwent a programmed inspection by OSHA’s Concord-area office back in January, which has since cited then $173,500 in fines.
The fines levied against the contractors reflect a variety of different hazards. According to Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA’s New Hampshire area director, the agency’s inspections “found workers exposed to… common but avoidable hazards associated with construction work, notably falls and electric shocks,” both of which are potentially fatal. As Ohar noted, this indicated a failure on the part of the contractors to “adhere to required safeguards at all times and on this and all job sites.”
The citations against the general contractor, Hardin Construction of Atlanta, Ga., carried $27,000 in fines and reflect five serious violations. Specifically, these violations include “employees being exposed to falls of up to 20 feet, an ungrounded power generator, unsecured and unmarked hole covers on the roof, a failure to supply fire extinguishers throughout the job site, and a lack of inspections by competent individuals with the knowledge to identify and authority to correct hazards.”
There were a number of subcontractors issued similar citations and fines. R&A Roofing and Sheet Metal Inc. of Orlando, Fla., a roofing subcontractor, was issued one willful and one serious violation and fines totaling $48,510. Also cited were the steel framing contractor, F.L. Crane and Sons Inc., of Hutto, Texas, Palace Construction Inc., which performed siding and trim work, MasRam Mechanical LP of Houston, Texas, Universal Timber Structures of Auburndale, Fla., Four Star Drywall LLC, of Manchester, N.H., and several others.
Some of the citations were willful and others were serious, and the distinction between the two is important here. A willful violation entails “intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements,” while a serious violation is committed when there is “substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could occur.” The companies cited in this case have fifteen business days after receiving the penalties to respond and/or contest the penalties. OSHA then moves forward with an independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Recently, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis announced a campaign aimed at preventing workplace incidents such as falls. This announcement came in the wake of 2010 data showing that over 10,000 workers were injured due to falls on the job. In addition, more than 250 of these falls were fatal. The campaign aims to provide information and educational materials in order to decrease the incidence of falls, particularly within the construction industry.
Construction work always jumps in the summer throughout the country, and it’s no different in Massachusetts. Each morning I drive into work, I pass multiple construction projects. From Route 9 in Brookline to Kendall Square in Cambridge-and all over the city of Boston-I see buildings being built or remodeled by a number of different companies. While not all construction accidents can be prevented, OSHA’s oversight and regulations is essential in protecting workers from injury (or worse) in the workplace. If you or someone you know has been injured in the workplace, please contact one of our workers’ compensation attorneys to review your case and provide you with an evaluation. We are available around the clock-including weekends-for free case consultations and can be reached at (617) 206-1928.
OSHA seeks $173,500 in fines against Merrimack Premium Outlet contractors, Union Leader, August 6, 2012