UPDATE: Jan. 30, 2020: For the 43rd time, OSHA has cited a Florida roofing company owned by Travis Slaughter, who has a long history of failing to protect employees from fall hazards.
The agency cited Florida Roofing Experts with eight willful citations for failing to protect its employees on two projects in Florida last July and has proposed a total of $1,007,717 in fines. Like Slaughter's former company, Great White Construction, Florida Roofing Experts is now in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which means the company will be subject to increased scrutiny and more frequent inspections.
OSHA has cited Florida Roofing Experts and Great White 42 times during the last seven years for fall protection, ladder use and eye protection violations.
Also this month, the agency announced that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has found Slaughter, Great White and Florida Roofing Experts in contempt of court for failure to pay $2.2 million in previous penalties. If Slaughter does not pay the fine plus penalties and interest, and certify that he and his two companies have corrected the conditions for which they were cited, they face additional sanctions, even imprisonment for Slaughter.
"This employer has an extensive OSHA history with willful, serious and repeat violations that has demonstrated an egregious disregard for the safety of their workers," said OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer, in a statement. "The employer continues to allow employees to work without fall protection, and has made no reasonable effort to eliminate the risk."
- OSHA has cited a Jacksonville, Florida, roofing contractor with one willful violation for exposing its employees to fall hazards and has proposed the company pay a fine of $132,598. This is the maximum monetary penalty for a willful violation.
- The agency said it was conducting an inspection under an OSHA Regional Emphasis Program intended to reduce the number of falls in the construction industry when investigators saw five Florida Roofing Experts employees working without fall protection at heights of more than 13 feet.
- Although this is the first violation for Florida Roofing Experts, company officer Travis Slaughter was also head of Great White Construction, which racked up $1.5 million of OSHA fines in 2017 for fall-related violations. Between 2014 and 2017, OSHA proposed more than $2 million in fines for Great White.
Now is the time for contractors to get their jobsite safety practices and procedures in order. OSHA has 76 new inspectors going through training, and U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta recently told Congress that once those individuals are ready to perform their new duties — a process that takes from one to three years — the number of agency inspections will likely increase. The trainees were hired in 2017, so some should be able to advance into the field at any time.
Construction companies can be sure that fall protection will be on the inspection agenda, as all but one of OSHA’s 10 U.S. regional offices have an emphasis program related to falls, be it for construction or general industry.
Contractors that perform trenching and excavation work should also be on the lookout for OSHA since the agency has had a National Emphasis Program in effect for these types of violations since Oct. 1, 2018.
OSHA uses U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures regarding workplace injuries in making its case that a special emphasis program addressing trenching and excavation hazards is warranted. There were, the agency reported, 130 excavation- or trenching-related deaths between 2011 and 2016, with the private construction industry accounting for 80% of those incidents. Almost 50% of fatal incidents happened between 2015 and 2016.
Four construction workers have died this month in two separate trench-related accidents, indicating how deadly this type of work can be.
On April 8, a worker on a building site in Marysville, Ohio, died after the 20-foot trench in which he was working collapsed, according to The Columbus Dispatch. Another worker was killed a few days earlier in Sugarcreek Township, Ohio, in a 14-foot trench collapse. On Wednesday, two workers trying to install pipes at a site in New Plymouth, Idaho, also lost their lives in a trench collapse, the Idaho Statesman reported.