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April 27, 2017
Review commission agrees to cite two contractors as one employer

Why did OSHA take the unusual step of citing two contractors as a single employer? What should you know about this enforcement action? Learn more here.

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An administrative law judge with the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission ruled that two Massachusetts contractors were operating as a single employer at a Wenham worksite when three employees were injured in 2014.

The workers were performing residential roofing work on a ladder jack scaffold when the wooden plank they were standing on snapped and sent them 20 feet to the ground. OSHA found that the plank was not graded for scaffold use.

OSHA cited both contractors due to the integrated nature of their operations, and the fact that they shared common worksites, management, and supervision. The general contractor said it was not responsible for worker safety, claiming that the employees were employed by the home improvement contractor.

The review commission decision noted a number of factors, including the general contractor’s ability to fire or discipline workers, its directions to the other contractor, and its signs on the worksite. When the general contractor applied for building permits, it said it had no subcontractors on the job.

In 2015, OSHA found numerous violations and fined the businesses a total of $294,500. Both entities had been cited and fined previously by OSHA. In addition to the plank hazard, the inspection identified scaffold platforms that exceeded the maximum allowable height, ladders that did not extend at least three feet above landings, and failure to train employees in scaffold erection and safety, among others.

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