Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Agency this week cited and fined a general contractor in Roseburg more than $38,000 for multiple job safety violations, including repeatedly failing to follow the minimum requirements to protect workers from fall hazards that could injure them.
Mid Oregon Builders LLC was issued the fine Tuesday following an inspection prompted by a confidential complaint. The inspection included an examination of work activity at residential construction sites in Sutherlin, Winston and Roseburg; interviews of employees and a supervisor; and a review of the company’s recordkeeping practices, according to OSHA.
Dave Duncan, a co-owner of Mid Oregon Builders along with Shea Cambridge and Joseph Russi, said the company has appealed the fines and is waiting for the opportunity to explain what has happened.
“We’ll just have to tell our story,” Duncan said “It’s a new inspector and it’s our sixth violation, so he comes in with guns blazing. We’ll get an opportunity to make our presentation, but at this point it’s the frequency that kills us.”
Duncan also said all employees receive training on the need for safety gear, but some of them resist using it.
“Construction is dangerous and its important that everyone where their safety gear. But sometimes it’s a battle to get these young men to wear their safety gear,” he said.
OSHA said that in one violation, Mid Oregon Builders failed to follow requirements to implement adequate fall protection systems — such as guardrail systems — where workers are exposed to falling 6 feet or more to a lower level. At one roofing job site in Sutherlin, for example, the company left employees in danger of potentially falling at least 13 feet, OSHA reported.
The failure to comply with the 6-foot trigger-height requirements was a repeat violation by Mid Oregon Builders, OSHA said. OSHA also said this was the fourth such violation committed by the company since October 2018.
Under OSHA’s rules, penalties multiply when employers commit repeat offenses. In this case, OSHA cited Mid Oregon Builders $36,000 for not ensuring employees are protected from falling when working six feet or more above a lower level.
Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry.
“Our fall protection requirements are designed to prevent serious injury or death, and they have proven effective at protecting workers,” Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA, said in a news release. “Repeatedly failing to take them seriously demonstrates a lack of responsibility and serves only one purpose — to further put lives at risk.”
The citation against Mid Oregon Builders proposes a total fine of $38,390. In addition to the repeat violation, the citation includes the following four serious violations:
- The company did not ensure employees were trained by a competent person qualified in the use and operation of fall protection systems, such as guardrail systems and personal fall arrest systems. Proposed penalty: $490.
- The company did not take all reasonable steps to provide adequate fall protection and to ensure employees used protective systems while working on elevated surfaces so they could safely accomplish their work. Proposed penalty: $1,400.
- The employer did not provide copies of injury and illness records for 2019 in a timely manner. Proposed penalty: $150.
- The employer did not enter each recordable injury or illness on the proper documents in a timely manner for 2018 and 2019. Proposed penalty: $350.
The citation issued against Mid Oregon Builders includes a standard penalty reduction based on the small size of the company. In addition to the increase in the penalty for the repeat violation, the fine amount reflects upward adjustments for the company’s poor faith and negative history, OSHA said.