- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the nation's largest homebuilder, D.R. Horton, and one of its subcontractors, Garcia Carpentry, with fall hazards and other violations, which the agency said occurred at an Ocala, FL, development site in February. OSHA fined Garcia $39,194 and D.R. Horton $68,591 — more than $107,000 total.
- OSHA issued D.R. Horton a repeat violation citation for failing to ensure that Garcia's employees were protected from fall-related hazards when working up to 25 feet high. OSHA also issued Garcia citations for repeat violations after inspectors saw Garcia employees installing roof sheathing without fall protection and employees using the top step of a ladder to gain access to roof trusses.
- OSHA also issued Garcia two citations for serious violations after inspectors observed employees without hard hats and operating powered nail guns without using adequate eye protection.
OSHA said its inspection of the D.R. Horton residential development was part of its ongoing Regional Emphasis Program on Falls in Construction. Preventable worker falls account for 40% of all construction industry deaths, which is why the agency continues to aggressively enforce fall protection standards. Brian Sturtecky, OSHA's area director in Jacksonville, FL, said in a release, "Both D.R. Horton and Garcia Carpentry recognize the hazards associated with working at heights more than 6 feet, yet failed to provide employees with the training, protection and tools required to safeguard them from the construction industry's leading cause of death — unprotected falls."
D.R. Horton also ran afoul of a Duval County, FL, jury in May of this year when it found the company responsible for construction defects at a 240-unit Jacksonville condominium development. The court ordered the homebuilder to pay $9.6 million to repair cracked stucco, leaking roofs and faulty windows and sliding glass doors at the Heron's Landing complex. Residents said they waited four years for D.R. Horton to fix the issues, but the company said the problems were a result of insufficient maintenance practices. The same attorneys who represented Heron's Landing are also suing D.R. Horton for similar claims at another Jacksonville development.
The OSHA fines and citations against Horton and Garcia were for violations that occurred in February, which means the monetary amount of the fines reflect the new penalty structure instituted by the agency this month. The new rates are 78% higher in order to meet the current Consumer Price Index.