OSHA issues citation to company for not protecting employees from falls

A Woodburn construction company has been fined for the seventh time in a year by Oregon OSHA for not protecting its employees from falls.

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division has issued the seventh citation since February 2013 to Bravo's Construction Services of Woodburn. The most recent fine is $72,825, after an October 2013 inspection at 3314 N.E. 52nd in Portland, where an employee was exposed to a fall of more than 20 feet. The October 2013 inspection also resulted in violations for inadequate scaffold design, not ensuring employees wore safety glasses and not holding safety committee meetings. The latter two issues were repeat violations. Unpaid fines against Bravo's Construction now total $166,161.62, with $15,416.62 past due. Oregon OSHA is referring the matter to the state Construction Contractors Board (CCB) due to a continued lack of negligence, according to an OSHA press release. "Most employers meet their obligations under our rules," said Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood in the press release. "Even for those who need to be reminded, it is rare that we continue to have this level of a problem. When we do, we will issue substantial penalties against employers and refer them to CCB, which may make it legally impossible to do business in the state." CCB also suspended the company's license on Jan. 3 after it failed to pay a $1,000 penalty issued in July. Based on CCB's findings, Bravo's Construction allowed unlicensed contractors to use its license number in exchange for a percentage of the job amount. "CCB takes allegations of violations affecting employee safety very seriously," says Craig P Smith, CCB administrator in the press release. "In addition to imposing civil penalties and license suspensions, CCB routinely works closely with other state agencies, including Oregon OSHA and the Department of Justice, to hold contractors accountable and prevent willful violations of the law that affect public safety." According to Oregon administrative rules, employers must protect employees from falls when working at heights of 10 feet or more. The typical Oregon OSHA penalty for a first-time violation ranges from $400 to $1,000 for a small employer and increases with each repeat violation. The maximum penalty for a repeat fall violation is $70,000. In addition to the 10-foot rule, employees working at six feet or above a lower level also need to be protected from falls near open windows, doors, mezzanines, balconies or walkways. There are different ways to comply with Oregon OSHA's fall protection rule, such as using guardrails, catch platforms and personal fall arrest systems.

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