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June 17, 2024
Illinois contractor facing $264K in new OSHA fines

Maestro Construction Inc., a Bolingbrook, Illinois, construction contractor that has been cited seven times since 2020, faces $264,407 in new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) penalties for again exposing employees doing framing work to the risk of deadly falls at two homes under construction in Hanover Park, the agency announced June 12.

OSHA inspectors observed employees of Maestro Construction working at heights of up to 20 feet without adequate fall protection. Inspectors reported that some workers put on fall protection safety gear but wore it incorrectly, rendering it useless.

The agency also learned the employer failed to certify that employees had been trained in fall hazards or the required use of personal protective equipment.

Inspectors also found damaged electrical cords in use.

They identified violations in December and February at two nearby worksites on Greenbrook Court and issued Maestro Construction two willful, two repeat, and two serious violations and one other-than-serious violation. OSHA cited Maestro Construction four times in 2023 for fall-related violations.

“Contractors like Maestro Construction that willfully ignore federal safety standards for fall protection are endangering the lives and well-being of their employees,” Jacob Scott, OSHA’s Naperville, Illinois, area office director, said in an agency statement. “Despite being cited seven times since 2020, this company continues to show a callous disregard for their employees’ safety, and we will continue to hold them accountable for their defiance of regulations.”

Last fall, OSHA announced that its construction industry fall protection standard was its most frequently cited standard for 13 straight years. In fiscal year (FY) 2023, OSHA cited 7,271 violations of 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §1926.501.

OSHA warns Florida workers, residents of flood cleanup hazards

On June 14, OSHA cautioned emergency responders, recovery workers, and residents in areas of Florida recently flooded by intense rainfall to exercise caution when facing the hazards of a storm’s aftermath.

Once storms subside, workers are needed to restore electricity, communications, water, and sewer services. These activities may involve removing standing floodwater from structures, performing demolition work, clearing debris, identifying and removing hazardous waste, and other response work, according to OSHA.

The agency urged recovery and cleanup workers to avoid, when possible, entering areas where there’s standing water, especially in locations where there may be openings or depressions below the water surface that can pose a risk of serious injury or drowning.

Recovery and cleanup work involves a wide range of hazards, according to the agency, such as carbon monoxide, electrocution risks associated with water-impacted electrical circuits and components, extreme heat, fall hazards related to debris removal or working at heights, and handling contaminated or otherwise unsafe materials and debris.

The agency encouraged employers and supervisors to take protective measures that include evaluating the work area for potential hazards before beginning any recovery work, ensuring workers are appropriately trained to safely perform assigned tasks, and verifying hazards are corrected and effectively controlled.

“Flood recovery work presents numerous safety and health hazards—amid power loss, and water accumulation and saturation of building materials and electrical components—all of which can be minimized by being knowledgeable, following safe work practices and using personal protective equipment for debris removal,” Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA’s Southeast regional administrator, said in a statement.

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