As OSHA ends its annual National Safety Stand Down To Prevent Falls in Construction today, agency officials in Philadelphia offer this example of safety stupidity in Cinnaminson, New Jersey, to find a serious reminder of why the event is so important – and necessary.
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.
This contractor not only has a dismal safety reputation, it has also been barred from bidding on contracts because it fails to pay prevailing wages. A recent story by Scott Goss at the News Journal discusses Berlin Builder's penalties and questions why the company renames itself frequently.
OSHA's third annual national Stand-Down event 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.