April 28, 2016
Contractor's serial disregard of fall dangers underscores the necessity for
National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, May 2-6
South Jersey's Berlin Builders fails 21 inspections in 12 months, faces fines of $895K
PHILADELPHIA – As the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration prepares for its annual National Safety Stand Down To Prevent Falls in Construction from May 2-6, agency officials in Philadelphia have only to look east to Cinnaminson, New Jersey, to find a serious reminder of why the event is so important – and
There, Berlin Builders Inc., a framing subcontractor on many residential construction projects in southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and northern Delaware, has failed 21 of 27 federal safety inspections in 12 months by putting its employees at risk of potentially fatal fall hazards. The company faces proposed penalties totaling $789,536 for violations in 20 of those inspections. A more recent inspection added $106,470 in fines.
"Berlin Builders has an extensive OSHA history that reflects a callous disregard for its employees," said Nicholas DeJesse, director of the agency's Philadelphia Area Office. "A developer and contractor that hire this company are truly rolling the dice on worker safety. Amid the hazards we have cited, two Berlin Builders' employees suffered falls in 2015. This employer must make immediate changes before something worse happens."
In its latest inspection of a Berlin Builders site in October 2015 in Philadelphia, OSHA cited the company for one willful, two repeat and two serious violations. Inspectors responded to an imminent danger report alleging workers were 30 feet or more off the ground at 1427 Kater St. with no fall protection as required. OSHA found the company was contracted to frame residential properties as high as four stories at the site.
Inspectors found workers at risk of fall hazards 38 feet above ground without proper fall protection, and issued a willful citation. OSHA also issued citations for the company's failure to:
- Have a competent person conduct frequent and regular inspections of the site, materials and equipment.
- Provide a training program for employees exposed to fall hazards.
- Ensure employees used eye protection while using pneumatic nail guns.
- Ensure employees operating rough terrain forklifts were trained and evaluated in the safe operation of the equipment.
OSHA has designated May 2-6, as its third annual national Stand-Down event. Throughout the week, the agency encourages construction industry employers and workers to set time aside to review and discuss the serious dangers of falls and how to prevent them. Falls are the leading cause of workplace deaths in the construction industry.
To view the citations, visit: http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/BerlinBuilders_1102898.pdf*.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).