Contractor Safety, Enforcement and Inspection

Illinois Contractor Facing $66K in New OSHA Fines

A Fairmont City, Illinois, roofing contractor is facing $66,711 in new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines for five repeat, four serious, and one other-than-serious violation, the agency announced June 6.

Juan Zuniga Ramos, operator of JZ Exteriors and Repairs LLC, failed to provide fall protection and train workers on its use. Agency inspectors observed six roofers removing asphalt shingles on a commercial building in Greenville, Illinois, at heights up to 12 feet (ft) without fall protection.

Inspectors also learned the company lacked an accident prevention program and didn’t have a competent person to inspect worksites for hazards. The agency noted the contractor failed to use ladders properly, exposed workers to electrical hazards by not de-energizing circuits, and didn’t have a fire extinguisher available in case of an emergency.

The agency previously cited the employer for similar violations at a St. Charles, Missouri, worksite in 2019 and at a Highland, Illinois, jobsite in 2022, and it owes $31,163 in unpaid OSHA penalties.

“Several workplace safety inspections show that Juan Zuniga Ramos is willing to put his employees in danger by exposing them to the real possibility of serious and sometimes fatal fall injuries,” Aaron Priddy, OSHA’s Fairview Heights, Illinois, area director, said in an agency statement.

“Falls are a leading cause of death in the construction industry, and yet JZ Exteriors and Repairs has ignored warnings given and fines assessed in OSHA inspections in 2019 and 2022. Ramos must fulfill his responsibility to ensure his workers’ safety before tragedy strikes.”

On May 1, OSHA launched a national emphasis program (NEP) for falls across industries, and its construction industry fall protection standard (29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §1926.501) remains its most frequently cited standard, cited 5,260 times in fiscal year (FY) 2022.

Contractor fined $77K for trench violations

A Breese, Illinois, contractor faces $77,147 in OSHA fines for one willful violation, four serious violations, and one other-than-serious violation of federal trenching and excavation standards, the agency announced June 5.

Groundworks Contracting Inc. ignored a city engineer’s repeated verbal and written instructions to use trench cave-in protection. In response to a referral from the City of Waterloo, Illinois, OSHA inspectors found five employees of Groundworks Contracting in trenches as deep as 18 ft on 5 occasions during the agency’s investigation at the Silvercreek Crossing residential housing development.

The agency determined the employer put workers at risk by failing to provide required cave-in protection and head protection and by not training employees to recognize cave-in hazards. Inspectors also found Groundworks had no competent person on-site to inspect trenches before workers entered and, on one occasion, failed to protect a laborer as the person was hoisted in an excavator’s bucket to work over a 15-ft-deep trench.

“With help from a concerned City of Waterloo engineer, our inspectors were able to hold Groundworks Contracting Inc. accountable for its failure to protect employees from the threat of trench collapse, one of the construction industry’s most lethal hazards,” Priddy explained in an agency statement.

OSHA has an ongoing NEP to address trenching and excavation hazards and announced plans last year for 1,000 excavation inspections to address an uptick in trenching and excavation fatalities.

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