Once again, fall-related violations were behind most of the biggest fines OSHA issued to construction companies in the second quarter of this year, but burn and asbestos hazards made a showing as well.
However, what stands out most about this group of contractors is that one of them, Shawn D. Purvis, has been charged criminally in relation to a death that occurred on one of his company's jobsites. Once unheard of, prosecutors have been more willing to file criminal charges against construction companies, their executives and supervisors after a workplace accident, usually when serious injury or death results.
Another notable case, one of the most high-profile in recent years, was brought against Harco Construction, based in New York City, after one of its employees died in a trench collapse. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. led the charge against the company and secured a manslaughter conviction.
Shawn D. Purvis/Purvis Home Improvement Co. Inc. – Saco, Maine
Total proposed fines: $1,792,726
OSHA slammed roofing and home improvement contractor Shawn D. Purvis, owner of Purvis Home Improvement Co., with two massive fines in June — one in the amount of $1,116,476 for violations on a project in Portland, Maine, and another in the amount of $676,250 for violations on a project in Old Orchard Beach, Maine.
Tragically, an employee on the Portland project fell 20 feet to his death on Dec. 13, 2018, as he was climbing down from a roof onto a ladder jack scaffolding plank, allegedly without fall protection, according to the agency. Five days later, OSHA sent inspectors to the Old Orchard Beach location based on a reported complaint.
Across both projects, OSHA issued one repeat, 13 willful and three serious violations, most of them related to fall protection. The agency also cited the company for positioning the ladder jack scaffolding platform less than 3 feet away from power lines and failing to provide proper eye and face protection.
In May, Purvis pleaded not guilty to workplace manslaughter charges, which carry maximum penalties of 30 years in prison and $50,000, the Portland Press Herald reported. He awaits trial.
Nelcon Inc. – Kalispell, Montana
Total Proposed Fines: $261,418
OSHA issued Kalispell, Montana-based highway contractor Nelcon Inc. two fines totaling $261,418 — one for $225,425 and the other for $35,993 — in April after three of its employees were burned at one of the company's mobile asphalt mixing plants in Laurel, Montana, in October 2018. Another worker fell 15 feet during the same incident and was hospitalized in the aftermath. OSHA said the accident was a result of pouring cooler oil into a hot oil tank.
The violations — 30 serious and two other — that OSHA issued to Nelcon included failure to report a work-related accident leading to hospitalization within 24 hours; failure to use fall protection systems; not properly guarding machinery; lack of adequate personal protective equipment; and failure to control hazardous energy.
Nelcon was able to negotiate total fines down to $210,351.
Northridge Construction Corp. — East Patchogue, New York
Total Proposed Fines: $224,620
Status: Violations under contest
After one of its employees fell to his death while installing roof panels, OSHA fined Northridge Construction Corp. of East Patchogue, New York, $224,620 for three willful and three serious violations. According to OSHA’s accident investigation summary, while building a shed, the employee fell from a ladder onto a concrete floor after the shed collapsed and sustained fatal injuries to his head.
Violations included failure to provide head protection for employees; not ensuring employees used ladders as intended; allowing workers to use the top of a step ladder as a step; allowing employees to work on surfaces that could not hold their weight or were otherwise structurally deficient; and not protecting employees with sufficient fall arrest systems.
Crown Roofing LLC – Tampa, Florida
Total proposed fines: $197,383
Status: Violations under contest
Crown Roofing LLC, which has several offices in Florida, has been cited by OSHA for fall protection violations in the past. The most recent incident occurred after a December 2018 inspection of one of Crown's jobsites in Naples, Florida, when the agency issued the company fines in the amount of $197,383 for one willful and six serious violations.
A worker fall initially brought OSHA to the site, although the injured person was the employee of another subcontractor, Southern Living Contractors Inc. The agency said that once its inspectors were onsite, they noticed that other contractors also were exposing their own employee to potential hazards.
The other three companies cited — Southern Living, Paramount Drywall Inc./ Paramount Stucco LLC and Sunny Grove Landscaping and Nursery Inc. — were fined a total of $22,731. OSHA cited Southern Living and Paramount with fall protection-related violations and Sunny Grove for exposing its workers to struck-by hazards.
Crown's violations included not providing employees with head protection; allowing improper use of ladders; and failure to protect its workers with adequate fall protection systems.
Florentino Rodriguez (dba DB Custom Carpentry) – Aurora, Illinois
Total Proposed Fines: $196,905
OSHA cited Illinois contractor Florentino Rodriguez of DB Custom Carpentry LLC in May for exposing employees to falls at a project site in Wheaton, Illinois. The agency issued fines to Rodriguez in the amount of $196,905 for one serious and two willful safety violations.
During a November 2018 inspection, OSHA inspectors saw Rodriguez's employees working without sufficient fall protection. OSHA also cited DB for failure to train employees about fall protection and safe operation of a forklift.
OSHA said that, since 2013, it has cited companies owned by Rodriguez for fall-related violations 12 times and that the contractor owes more than $797,000 in outstanding penalties. OSHA has sent these past due amounts to the U.S. Department of Treasury for debt collection.
Custom Crushing & Co. – Kansas City, Missouri
Total Proposed Fines: $193,596
Status: Violations under contest
OSHA cited Kansas City, Missouri-based contractor Custom Crushing & Co. for asbestos-related violations back in May and issued the company fines in the amount of $193,596.
The agency said that Custom Crushing failed to comply with the agency's asbestos removal standards during a renovation at Kansas State University’s Hale Library in Manhattan, Kansas, by exposing its employees to asbestos; not providing employees with respiratory protection and personal protective clothing; failure to develop a written hazard communication program; not training workers about asbestos hazards; failure to properly dispose of material and waste that contains asbestos; and not conducting medical surveillance on employees who were exposed to health hazards. In total, the agency issued 23 violations to Custom Crushing.