Roofing Company Owner Charged In Employee’s Fatal Fall

The latest OSHA enforcement activity from Region 1

James J. McCullagh, 60, of Meadowbrook, Penn., was charged by indictment in connection with the fatal fall of an employee, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger. McCullagh, who owns James J. McCullagh Roofing, is charged with with four counts of making false statements, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of willfully violating an OSHA regulation causing death to an employee.

According to the indictment, McCullagh failed to provide fall protection equipment to his employees. On June 21, 2013, one of McCullagh’s employees was killed after falling approximately 45 feet from a roof bracket scaffold while performing roofing work for McCullagh. In connection with the OSHA investigation of the fatality, McCullagh attempted to cover up his failure to provide fall protection by falsely stating, on four occasions, that he had provided fall protection equipment, including safety harnesses, to his employees. McCullagh told an OSHA Compliance Safety and Health Officer that his employees had been wearing safety harnesses tied off to an anchor point when he saw them earlier in the day prior to the fall.

The indictment alleges that McCullagh knew that he had not provided fall protection to his employees and none of his employees had safety harnesses or any other form of fall protection. It is further alleged that McCullagh directed other employees to falsely state that they had fall protection, including safety harnesses, on the day of the fall.

If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, three years of supervised release, $1.5 million in fines, and a $510 special assessment.

The case was investigated by OSHA and the United States Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mary Kay Costello.

The acting OSHA regional administrator in Philadelphia Robert D. Kulick, issued the following statement about the case:

“Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, and it’s no secret how critical fall protection is to saving worker’s lives. OSHA cited James J. McCullagh for not protecting his workers and not providing a safe work environment. We are hopeful that this indictment will lead to accountability for this unnecessary and totally preventable workplace fatality, and most importantly, that his family will finally see justice. “Employers who fail to fulfill their legal responsibilities to provide safe and healthy workplaces, who provide false statements to OSHA, and who coerce their employees to provide false statements will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Temp Staffing Firm Agrees to Make Changes to Protect Employees

A Tewksbury, Mass., company that supplies temporary employees to businesses has agreed to enhanced workplace safety and health protections for workers it places in all those businesses in a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor.

OSHA cited Marathon Staffing Services Inc. for a serious violation in December 2014 for not providing hearing tests for its employees exposed to high noise levels while working on assignment at Concrete Systems Inc. in Hudson, New Hampshire.

Under the terms of the agreement, Marathon will have a qualified safety and health professional review and update a checklist to address foreseeable safety and health concerns at client workplaces. The list will be used to conduct initial and periodic safety and health inspections or audits at client work sites to ensure working conditions meet OSHA standards.

Marathon will also provide comprehensive safety and health training for its account executives and sales representatives. The company will develop, with each of its clients, written contracts specifying their respective responsibilities to develop safety and health programs applicable to each workplace where Marathon will supply temporary employees. These terms echo OSHA’s recommended practice that temporary staffing agencies and host employers define and implement their respective roles designed to ensure compliance with applicable OSHA standards.

“This is an example of what suppliers of temporary employees should be doing,” said Kim Stille, OSHA’s regional administrator for New England. “Both host employers and staffing agencies have critical roles in complying with workplace health and safety requirements. They share responsibility for ensuring worker safety and health. Each employer should consider hazards it can prevent and correct, and no employer—whether a temporary staffing agency or a client company—should ever send an employee into harm’s way.”

“This settlement ripples beyond this one case. It is designed to enhance safety and health for hundreds of Marathon employees at numerous work sites in several states. Other suppliers and employers of temporary workers can and should take heed and ensure that all employees—permanent, short-term or day laborer—work in an environment that enables them to come home each day safe and healthy,” said Michael Felsen, the department’s regional solicitor of labor for New England.

Marathon Staffing Services Inc. operates in several states and is part of a Marathon Staffing network of connected offices that collectively place more than 15,000 temporary workers annually.

The settlement in this case was negotiated by senior trial attorney Susan Salzberg of the Regional Solicitor’s Office.

In April 2013, OSHA announced an initiative to improve workplace safety and health for temporary workers, who are at increased risk of work-related injury and illness. The initiative includes outreach, training and enforcement to ensure that temporary workers are protected in their workplaces. OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have issued a “Recommended Practices” publication that focuses on ensuring that temporary workers receive the same training and protection that permanent employees receive.

Provant Health Solutions’ Employee Sustains Preventable Needlestick Injury

An East Greenwich, Rhode Island, company that conducts wellness clinics throughout the U.S. inadequately protected its employees against exposure from contaminated needlesticks and bloodborne pathogen hazards, an inspection by OSHA has found.

OSHA began an inspection of Provant Health Solutions LLC in November 2014, after an employee complained that a used needle punctured him as he unpacked a box in the company’s mailroom. The company ships clean needles and other medical supplies to clinics. After use, the contaminated needles are shipped in unmarked boxes back to the company’s headquarters for disposal by a private biohazard removal service.

OSHA inspectors determined that the packages in use did not effectively protect employees from needlesticks as boxes were unpacked. They also noted that needles could fall out of boxes into a shipping container, which happened at least twice. Boxes lacked required warning labels, and the company did not use an authorized carrier to return the contaminated needles to Provant’s headquarters. The company also lacked an effective program to minimize needlestick injuries. It also failed to train employees about hazards, as required, and did not record injuries properly.

“This company needlessly exposed its employees to preventable injuries and illnesses that can result from being punctured by contaminated needles and also lacked required safeguards,” said Patrick Griffin, OSHA’s area director for Rhode Island. “Unless Provant Health Solutions updates, changes and improves its handling of needles and other bloodborne pathogen hazards, its employees will remain at risk.”

The inspection has led OSHA to cite Provant for nine serious and one other-than-serious violation of OSHA standards. Proposed fines total $62,000.

Provant Health Solutions has more than 13,000 employees. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

 

OSHA Revises Whistleblower Investigations

Clarifies remedies and settlements

OSHA has updated its Whistleblower Investigations Manual to increase uniformity and predictability in the settlement and damages aspects of whistleblower cases—a significant benefit for both employers and workers, and their attorneys.

Revisions to Chapter 6 in the manual, “Remedies and Settlement Agreements,” lay out OSHA’s guidelines for ordering compensatory and punitive damages, including the factors that OSHA uses for calculating these damages.

The chapter affirms that OSHA may award compound interest for out-of-pocket damages, such as credit card interest, annuity losses, and job search expenses incurred by a worker as the result of unlawful retaliation by an employer. The revised chapter also clarifies the method OSHA follows to award attorneys’ fees under appropriate statutes.

Revised Hazard Communications Requirements Now in Effect

Is your business in compliance?

As of June 1, 2015, chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers are required to provide a common approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets.

Chemical manufacturers and importers must provide a label that includes a signal word, pictogram, hazard statement, and precautionary statement for each hazard class and category. Beginning in December, distributors may only ship containers labeled by the chemical manufacturer or importer if the labels meet these requirements.

The June 1 deadline was established when OSHA aligned its Hazard Communication Standard in 2012 with the global standard for chemical product labeling. The provisions for labeling offer workers better protection from chemical hazards, while also reducing trade barriers and improving productivity for American businesses that regularly handle, store, and use hazardous chemicals.

The updated standard also provides cost savings for American businesses that periodically update safety data sheets and labels for chemicals covered under the standard, saving businesses millions of dollars each year.

The new format for Safety Data Sheets requires 16 specific sections to ensure consistency in presentation of important protection information. For more information, see OSHA’s Hazard Communication webpage.

Recent Storms Reinforce Need for Disaster Prep

Free webinar teaches you what you need to know

Thunderstorms with high winds produced by strong downdrafts called microbursts swept into several Connecticut towns in June, taking down trees and power lines, blocking roads, and leaving thousands of homes and businesses in the dark.

If that kind of disruption happens to your business, will you know what to do?

Experts say this year could produce 11 named storms, six of them hurricanes, and two as powerful as Category 3 or higher (according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

A new one-hour webinar offered twice this summer will feature property insurance experts explaining the steps you can take before and after a catastrophic event that will help your business not only navigate but survive and potentially thrive in the aftermath of a disaster.

Two Disaster Preparedness webinars offered by the Governor’s Economic Recovery Group will take place on Wednesday, July 29 and Wednesday, August 26, both starting at 10 am.

Panelists will include Jeb McPherson, CPA, CFF, FCPA, senior consultant and FEMA project leader for Marsh Risk Consulting’s Forensic Accounting and Claims Services; Marc Fabrizio, director, Risk Services, Marsh & McLennan Agency; Brett Gillmon, managing director, Marsh USA Inc.

Registration is free, but required.

Ten Leading Causes of Workplace Injuries

And what they cost in workers’ comp

According to the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety Workplace Safety Index, overexertion ranked first as the leading cause of disabling injury in the workplace.

The overexertion category, which includes injuries related to lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying, or throwing, cost U.S. businesses $15.1 billion and accounted for more than one quarter of the top 10 disabling injury causes in 2012, the most recent year for which data are available. All told, the listed injury causes amounted to nearly $60 billion in total U.S. workers compensation costs or more than $1 billion dollars a week spent by businesses on disabling injuries.

The Workplace Safety Index is developed annually by Liberty Mutual researchers based on information from the company’s workers compensation claims, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and the National Academy of Social Insurance. Using BLS injury event coding, researchers determined which injuries caused an employee to miss six or more days of work and then ranked those events by total workers compensation costs.

10 Leading Causes and Direct Costs of Workplace Injuries in 2012

  1. Overexertion: $15.1B—25.3%
  2. Falls on same level: $9.19B—15.4%
  3. Struck by object or equipment: $5.3B—8.9%
  4. Falls to lower level: $5.12B—8.6%
  5. Other exertions or bodily reactions: $4.27B—7.2%
  6. Roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicle: $3.18B—5.3%
  7. Slip or trip without fall: $2.17B—3.6%
  8. Caught in/compressed by equipment or objects: $2.1B—3.5%
  9. Repetitive motions involving micro-tasks: $1.84B—3.1%
  10. Struck against object or equipment: $1.76B—2.9%

The top five injury causes accounted for 65.4% of the total 2012 workplace injury cost burden, based on Liberty Mutual data. The leading “overexertion” category and the two “falls” categories among the top five combined to generate more than 50% of the leading causes of disabling workplace injuries.

Roofing Workers Spotted in ‘Clear and Present Danger’

Area contractor has history of violations, faces nearly $73K in fines

Inspectors from OSHA were headed back to their Providence office on Jan. 22, 2015, after completing a site inspection when they saw a dangerous situation in clear view at another site in North Smithfield, Rhode Island.

Two men working for Ivan Paredes, a Brockton, Massachusetts, roofing contractor, were on a ladder-jack scaffold without guardrails, and with no protective gear to keep them from falling 16 feet to the ground. The two federal inspectors immediately pulled over, ordered the employees off the scaffold and began an inspection.

“This was a clear-and-present danger. These employees could have fallen at any time and been killed or disabled. Ivan Paredes knew of this hazard, but chose to ignore it and his legal responsibility to protect his employees,” said Patrick Griffin, OSHA’s area director for Rhode Island.

Paredes’ failure to provide and ensure the use of fall protection led OSHA to cite the contractor for a willful violation of worker safety standards. He now faces a $70,000 fine, the maximum allowed under the law.

Paredes was also cited for a serious violation, with a fine of $2,800, for an additional hazard for not having his employees use an access ladder to reach the scaffold’s work platform safely. The proposed fines total $72,800.

OSHA has cited Paredes, who also operates as Lincoln Construction, for fall-related hazards seven times since October 2010, at work sites in East Greenwich, Middletown, Newport, Portsmouth, and Providence.

Paredes has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

New Confined Spaces Rule for Construction Workers

Construction protections now match those in manufacturing

OSHA has issued a final rule to increase protections for construction workers in confined spaces.

Manholes, crawl spaces, tanks, and other confined spaces are not intended for continuous occupancy. They are also difficult to exit in an emergency. People working in confined spaces face life-threatening hazards including toxic substances, electrocutions, explosions, and asphyxiation.

Last year, two workers were asphyxiated while repairing leaks in a manhole, the second when he went down to save the first—which is not uncommon in cases of asphyxiation in confined spaces.

“In the construction industry, entering confined spaces is often necessary, but fatalities like these don’t have to happen,” said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “This new rule will significantly improve the safety of construction workers who enter confined spaces. In fact, we estimate that it will prevent about 780 serious injuries every year.”

The rule will provide construction workers with protections similar to those manufacturing and general industry workers have had for more than two decades, with some differences tailored to the construction industry. These include requirements to ensure that multiple employers share vital safety information and to continuously monitor hazards—a safety option made possible by technological advances after the manufacturing and general industry standards were created.

“This rule will save lives of construction workers,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Unlike most general industry worksites, construction sites are continually evolving, with the number and characteristics of confined spaces changing as work progresses. This rule emphasizes training, continuous worksite evaluation, and communication requirements to further protect workers’ safety and health.”

Compliance assistance material and additional information is available on OSHA’s Confined Spaces in Construction Web page.

Are You Prepared for a Disaster?

Free emergency preparedness resources

The resources below can help you develop a plan to protect your employees, lessen the financial impact of disasters, and reopen your business quickly to support economic recovery in your community.

If you need disaster assistance immediately, visit the SBA’s disaster assistance page.

General Preparedness Information

Specific Disaster Information

For more emergency preparedness advice, click here or contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

OSHA Appoints New Region 1 Administrator

Kim Stille to lead the New England Office

On May 1, Kim Stille was appointed to head up the New England (Region 1) OSHA Office.

Kim started with OSHA in 1987 as an industrial hygienist in the Peoria, Illinois, office. From there, she became the assistant area director in Little Rock Arkansas. Since April 1997, Kim has served as the area director in Madison, Wisconsin. In this capacity, she has led some of the most effective and unique enforcement actions for the agency.

Kim has been the recipient of many awards, including three DOL Secretary’s Impact Awards, the Distinguished Career Service Award, and an Assistant Secretary’s Commendation Coin. She also served on a number of details in the National Office, including most recently as the acting deputy director for enforcement programs, where she helped develop and implement key policy initiatives.

CBIA would like to extend congratulations and welcome to Kim.

 

Connecticut Retailer Faces $165K in OSHA Fines

Emergency exits blocked

Emergency exits blocked by piles of store inventory appears to be a recurring hazard at Forever 21. The fashion retailer’s employees at Westfarms Mall in Farmington were among the chain’s workers put at risk of not being able to exit the store swiftly because of fire or another emergency, OSHA inspectors determined after receiving a complaint.

“Emergency exits and hallways were blocked by store inventory. Boxes were unsafely stacked, which created serious safety threats,” said Warren Simpson, OSHA area director in the Hartford Area Office. “Four stockroom employees were assigned to work in these conditions. At the time of the inspection, they were working around the clock before Black Friday, when inventory levels were higher.”

During the November 2014 inspection, boxes were stored in the hallway leading from the retail space to an emergency exit, which reduced the exit to 23 inches of passable space. Required space for exits is a minimum of 28 inches. Additionally, the emergency exit routes were obstructed by piles of boxes as high as 10 feet. Boxes were stored unstably and could fall and injure workers.

Forever 21 employees have been exposed to these dangers previously. OSHA has conducted 37 inspections of company stores in the past five years. It cited the women’s fashion retailer 12 times for similar hazards, including stores in Bridgewater, New Jersey, in 2012 and Burlington, Massachusetts, in 2013.

Due to the recurring nature of these hazards, OSHA has cited Forever 21 Retail Inc. for three repeated violations.

Proposed fines total $165,000 for the conditions at the Westfarms Mall store.

“The company’s corporate office is responsible for safety and health requirements at retail locations nationwide, yet it allows these hazards to occur repeatedly,” said Simpson. “Forever 21 must take steps to address these types of hazards effectively at its stores.”