Here’s one way a company can be sure to get a big OSHA fine: Deny protective gear to a worker, cause the worker to suffer serious injuries and then fail to promptly report the incident.
OSHA has fined Cotton Commercial USA Inc. $362,500 for seven safety violations in connection with an employee’s 12-foot fall through a roof that left him hospitalized with fractured arms and other severe injuries.
According to OSHA’s investigation, the temporary worker who was injured had requested a safety harness for roof work but was denied one.
Cotton waited three days to report the injury, according to OSHA. The agency’s reporting rules require a worker’s hospitalization to be reported within 24 hours.
The six-figure fine is for seven violations (2 serious, one willful and four egregious willful):
- 4 egregious willful citations – one for each employee engaged in roofing activities on low-slope roofs with unprotected sides and edges 6 feet or more above lower levels who was not protected from falling by a fall protection system ($280,000)
- one willful citation for failing to report to OSHA the in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye as a result of a work-related incident within 24 hours ($70,000)
- one serious citation for failing to assure that each employee exposed to fall hazards was properly trained ($7,000), and
- one serious citation for failing to provide a training program for each employee using ladders and stairways, as necessary, which would enable each employee to recognize hazards related to ladders and stairways ($5,500).
OSHA uses egregious willful citations to fine companies per employee or instance of a violation.
“Cotton Commercial denied its workers the safety equipment they are required to provide, and the company intentionally waited several days to report the incident and misled OSHA’s inspectors,” said OSHA chief David Michaels.
“Cotton Commercial was well aware of how to prevent this safety hazard, and, in fact, on the following day, Cotton made sure all workers were provided with the required safety equipment,” said OSHA Regional Administrator John Hermanson.
OSHA also fined Gardia Construction which provided the workers to Cotton. Gardia received a citation for one serious violation and a fine of $4,900, for failing to conduct frequent and regular inspections of the job site where its employees worked.
Cotton provides remediation services for commercial and residential structures damaged from disasters. It operates throughout the U.S.
Both companies have 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA or contest the citations to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.