ALJ Affirms OSHA Assessment for Willful Penalties Against Construction Company

An Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission ALJ affirmed assessed penalties for willful safety violations on a Florida construction company.  An OSHA inspector cited the company when an inspection revealed that employees were not tied-off when working at heights of 19.5 feet.  At a contested hearing, an ALJ found that the company had insufficient internal safety enforcement, that the work crew leader knew that his crew was violating the safety requirement, and that the crew leader’s knowledge was imputed to the company.  In the year preceding the violation, OSHA had issued seven similar citations.  In affirming the willful violation, the ALJ relied on the company’s heightened awareness of the safety requirement from the previous citations, condemned the company’s perceived attitude toward safety and did not accept the company’s assertion that the employees were individually responsible for choosing not to tie off.  This assessment serves as a reminder that companies should take steps to ensure that any conduct that results in alleged safety violations should be cured through adequate training and oversight to prevent it from recurring.

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