What happens when a company doesn’t pay OSHA fines? It ends up in federal court.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is asking a federal appeals court to make Summer and Winter Construction LLC of Concord, NH, to pay $101,550 in OSHA fines.
DOL’s request states the company’s “willful and repeat violations include such life-threatening violations as failure to provide adequate roof fall protection, fall protection training and a long-enough ladder for roof-top work.”
The fines are from four inspections:
- In 2000, OSHA cited the company for failure to provide fall protection to employees working on a roof. Fines: $10,750.
- In 2006, OSHA cited the company for failing to provide head protection, provide adequately supported scaffolding and offer fall protection for employees working on a roof. Fines: $1,800.
- OSHA conducted two inspections of the company’s work in 2009. Violations included improper use of anchorages for fall protection, failure to secure a hoisted load above employees, a ladder with broken rungs, lack of eye protection, unsafe use of a circular saw and incorrect use of fall arrest systems. Fines: $89,000.
The attorney for the company says the 2000 fines were against Sharon and Walter Construction which went bankrupt in 2003.
However, the company argued that point previously before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) and lost. OSHA had issued repeat citations against Summer and Winter. The company appealed the categorization of the fines as repeat, saying that the previous company had gone bankrupt and that the new company was a separate entity.
Courts have used a multi-factor test from the National Labor Relations Board to determine whether a successor company must satisfy the obligations of a predecessor.
OSHRC found there were enough similarities between the two companies to support OSHA’s repeat citations. The type of business (construction) was the same, and there was continuity in personnel who controlled business decisions.