10 biggest OSHA fines of 2019

Last year, nine of the most expensive OSHA citations included some kind of fall protection violation, whether the company in question primarily performed roofing or mixed asphalt. The tenth mostly dealt with excavation and trenching violations.

It’s easy to understand why these inoculations warranted the highest penalties, as they are among the most dangerous activities that can happen on a construction project. In fact, falls constituted more than 33% of all construction deaths in 2018. In addition, four of the 10 most-cited OSHA violations are related to falls.

Shawn D. Purvis/Purvis Home Improvement Co. Inc. – Saco, Maine

Total proposed fines: $1,792,726

Status: Violations under contest (here and here)

OSHA proposed the largest total fines in 2019 for contractor Purvis Home Improvement Co. in June 2019. One citation was for $1,116,476 for violations on a job in Portland, Maine, where an employee fell 20 feet to his death. The other citation, this one totaling $676,250, was for violations on a job in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, after OSHA received a complaint. The individual who died while on the Portland job was climbing down from a roof without the benefit of fall protection.

OSHA issued Purvis one repeat, 13 willful and three serious violations, almost all of them dealing with fall protection and others related to scaffold being positioned to close to power lines and failure to provide appropriate face and eye protection.

In May 2019, Purvis pleaded not guilty to workplace manslaughter charges and awaits trial.

T.D. Fraley & Sons — Alexandria, Virginia

Total Proposed Fines: $528,692

Status: Violations under contest

Virginia Occupational Safety and Health (VOSH), which oversees an OSHA-approved state plan, issued Fraley 12 violation citations after one of its workers was hospitalized while breaking down scaffolding that was positioned too close to an overhead power line and the worker came into contact with the live line. VOSH also found that scaffolding rising as high as 20 feet had been placed on blocks and boards instead of on stable ground and footings; there were insufficient scaffolding guardrail systems; and that Fraley allowed its workers to work within 10 feet of power lines.

Upon inspection, VOSH investigators found that scaffolds rising 14 feet to 20 feet high were being supported using blocks and boards instead of sound and level footings; that scaffolds had inadequate guardrail systems; that Fraley allowed employees to work within 10 feet of an overhead high voltage power line; and that Fraley did not contact VOSH about the employee’s injury and hospitalization within the required 24-hour timeframe.

Crown Roofing LLC — Sarasota, Florida

Total proposed fines: $462,579

Status: Violations under contest (herehere and here)

OSHA has inspected Crown Roofing projects almost 20 times in the last five years and has cited the company several times as a result of those inspections. In 2019, Crown accumulated citations representing $462,579 in proposed penalties — $132,598 for violations on a project in Naples, Florida, $132,598 for a project in Port Saint Lucie, Florida, and $197,383 for another project in Naples. The vast majority of the citations are related to fall protection.

In a June 2019 local media report on companies that are fighting OSHA fines, a representative from Crown Roofing said that the company provides its employees with safety equipment and training — about $1 million in 2018 — but that some employees don’t abide by the rules the company has set forth.

Allways Roofing — Snohomish, Washington

Total Proposed Fines: $374,400

Status: Violations Under Contest (here and here)

The Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I), which, like Virginia, also operates a federal OSHA-approved state plan, cited Allways Roofing last November for violations on two projects — one in Woodinville, Washington ($191,700) and the other in Arlington, Washington ($182,700). The majority of the 18 citations deal with fall protection, although there are some that deal with other safety breaches like failure to conduct regular inspections. Allways’ working conditions on the Arlington job prompted neighbors to call and report the company.

L&I has cited Allways for fall-related and other safety violations seven times since 2012 and has placed the contractor into Washington’s Severe Violator program.

Frame Q — Palisades Park, New Jersey

Total Proposed Fines: $261,451

Status: Closed

OSHA cited and proposed fines for Frame Q in January 2019 after an inspector found fall protection violations on one of its projects.

Soon after the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey filed suit against the company in an attempt to collect more than $678,000 of past-due OSHA fines, some dated as far back as 2014. Those citations were also primarily fall-related. As of February 2019, those citations added up to $473,178 plus $173,100 in penalties and interest. Frame Q, according to OSHA records, contested at least one citation and associated fine, but that claim was rejected after the company missed the deadline for filing a dispute.

Prosecutors dismissed that case without prejudice in May 2019. There is no reason given for the dismissal in the court documents, but Frame Q could have reached a settlement with the federal government.

Nelcon Inc. – Kalispell, Montana

Total Proposed Fines: $261,418

Status: Penalty payment plan in place (here and here)

OSHA issued Kalispell, Montana-based highway contractor Nelcon Inc. two fines totaling $261,418 — one for $225,425 and the other for $35,993 — last year after one employee fell 15 feet and three other employees were burned at a Nelcon mobile asphalt mixing plants in Laurel, Montana. OSHA said the accident was a result of pouring cooler oil into a hot oil tank.

The 32 violations that OSHA issued to Nelcon included failure to report a work-related accident leading to hospitalization within 24 hours and failure to control hazardous energy.

Nelcon reached a settlement with OSHA that reduced the $261,418 fine to $184,209 and the $35,993 fine to $26,412.

Polo Masonry Builders Inc. — Park Ridge, Illinois

Total Proposed Fines: $252,136

Status: Violations Under Contest

OSHA cited Polo Masonry Builders Inc. for not protecting its employees from fall and scaffolding hazards on one of the company’s commercial projects in Chicago. The agency placed Polo in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program after a long line of inspections uncovered similar violations.

During a March 2019 jobsite inspection, OSHA inspectors said that Polo’s employees were exposed to the dangers of improperly constructed scaffolding; falls of more than 19 feet because of edges left unprotected by guardrails.

Polo has contested the $252,136 of fines and all citations.

Mike Krueger (roofing contractor) — Martin, Ohio

Total Proposed Fines: $247,544

Status: Penalties Referred to Debt Collection (here and here)

OSHA has citing roofing contractor Mike Krueger five times since 2008 for fall protection violations. During the last two planned inspections in May 2019, OSHA inspectors determined that Krueger had violated fall protection standards and other OSHA regulations at two Ohio jobsites ​— one in Toledo and the other in Perrysburg. OSHA fined Krueger $116,688 for violations at the Toledo site and $130,856 for violations at the Perrysburg site.

OSHA has referred those fines to debt collectors.

Northridge Construction Corp. — East Patchogue, New York

Total Proposed Fines: $224,620

Status: Violations under contest

When OSHA inspectors visited Northridge Construction Corp.’s jobsite in East Patchogue, New York, following a fatality, they determined that one of Northridge’s employees had fallen from a ladder onto a concrete floor and sustained fatal head injuries. OSHA fined Northridge $224,620 for three willful and three serious violations that included failure to provide head protection for employees and allowing them to work on surfaces that could not hold their weight.

Northridge’s violations are under contest.

R.V. Wagner Inc. — St. Louis, Missouri

Total Proposed Fines: $212,158

Status: Pending Penalty Payment

OSHA inspectors cited St. Louis, Missouri-based civil, commercial and industrial contractor R.V. Wagner Inc. last year with exposing employees to trench, excavation and other hazards while workers were installing concrete stormwater pipes. The agency proposed fines of $212,158 for four serious and two willful violations.

During the inspection, inspectors found that the company had not provided protective helmets to its employee; did not protect workers from struck-by hazards while they were working in an excavation; allowed employees to work while loads of materials were lifted over their heads; and other excavation-related violations.​


By: Kim Slowey; Construction Dive on February 5, 2020