The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced on April 7, 2016, that it was levying a huge fine on New Jersey contractor Berlin Builders. The citations and fines relate to multiple projects, the two most recent of which are the Springford Estates development in Limerick Township, Pennsylvania, and the American House project in Perkasie.
Citing multiple violations relating to fall hazards and fire risks, OSHA imposed fines and penalties of $385,836 on Berlin. Among the problems alleged to have been uncovered at the inspection were a failure to provide fire extinguishers for employees where flammable liquids were being used, an unprotected floor opening while employees were framing a 3 story building, and misuse of a ladder. According to the news reports, OSHA imposed heavy fines on Berlin because it is a repeat offender in multiple jurisdictions.
This represents another example of OSHA’s increased work site enforcement activity to ensure worker safety. Employers should be taking affirmative steps to ensure their employees are working safe and following OSHA guidelines, as an employee that goes home safely each night will arrive the next day for work; and employers should also be prepared to demonstrate what they are doing to ensure safety when OSHA inspectors arrive on site in order to avoid enforcement actions.