SEA ISLE CITY – A local builder was fined $48,510 for two repeat and two serious safety violations at a Pleasure Avenue worksite.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited JF Builder, Inc. with the violations, including fall violations. The November 2012 inspection was initiated as part of OSHA’s local emphasis program for fall hazards in construction.
The construction company was fined $37,730 for two repeat violations. According to OSHA, the company was cited for workers exposed to fall hazards from heights of approximately 12 feet to the ground. The company was cited for the same violations in 2009 and 2001.
A repeat violation is issued when an employer has been previously cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the past five years.
The two serious violations carried a penalty of $10,780 and were due to unprotected workers exposed to fall hazards while working from an elevated wooden pallet resting on the forks of a front-end loader. A serious violation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
According to Leni Fortson, an OSHA spokesperson, the violations occurred at a three-story residential-style condominium building located at 4701 Pleasure Ave.
“The inspection was not the result of an accident,” said Fortson. “It was initiated as part of the local emphasis program for fall hazards in construction.”
Joe Freda, owner of JF Builders, Inc. told the Herald the violations are under appeal. “We’re going to win the whole thing,” he said.
According to Freda, his company’s employees work in a controlled access zone.
“We went to school for safety training because in 2011 we were cited. We paid our fine and we made some mistakes so went to safety training,” he said. “A fellow came down here and walked through all our jobs because we were fined for things we weren’t aware of.”
Freda said his company goes “above and beyond the call of duty” to prevent OSHA violations on its jobsites.
The construction company owner added he felt his company was being targeted OSHA. He said the day of the inspection five inspectors from OSHA showed up at the jobsite. “That was the only thing they did the whole day.”
He said the day of the inspection inspectors showed up at the site but never set foot on the property. “They took pictures,”Freda said.
Freda said the same day as his company received the violations he and several employees went “up and down Sea Isle…and we saw 30 or so jobs going on. Not one of them was in a controlled access zone, not one of them had a hardhat on, not one of them had lanyards.”
Freda reiterated his stance on appealing the fines. “We’re appealing everything and we’re not going to pay one fine.” He added his company was not going to make the appeal to OSHA but to an administrative judge.
“It’s our opinion that there was not one violation. We have the data to support our contention that there were no violations because we work within a controlled access zone.”