When employers violate safety regulations, they are putting their employees at risk of serious injuries or even death. Because so many companies throughout Pennsylvania and the rest of the county willfully violated safety regulations, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration was charged with monitoring workplaces and enforcing penalties when safety hazards are discovered.
Recently, a Pennsylvania painting company was cited with 38 alleged safety violations and is now facing proposed fines of o$459,844. OSHA officials said the company, Canonsburg-based Panthera Painting Inc., exposed workers to safety and health hazards including lead exposure while performing abrasive blasting and repainting projects at bridge work sites in Slatington, Harrisburg and Slatedale, Pennsylvania.
The 38 cited violations include 14 willful and 11 repeat violations. Willful violations are those that are committed with intent, knowledge or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker health and safety. The willful violations involved failing to properly protect workers from exposure to lead and provide workers with fall protection.
Repeat violations are issued when employers are cited for similar safety and health violations that they have been cited for in the past. The repeat violations stem from exposing workers to lead in excess of the permissible levels, failing to post warning signs in lead work areas and other health and safety violations relating to lead exposure. OSHA said the company was cited for similar violations in 2011.
Another 11 citations were for serious violations, which occur when “there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.” The company also received two other-than-serious violations, for which no penalty was assessed.
Because the company was cited for both willful and repeat violations, it was placed on OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure the safety of the workers.
The company is lucky that is has an opportunity to address all of the safety violations before a worker is injured or killed on the job. However, it is still possible that workers who suffered lead exposure could sue the company for illnesses that arise in the future.
Source: Canon-McMillan Patch, “OSHA Proposes Almost $460K in Fines Against Canonsburg Company,” Amanda Gillooly, Jan. 31, 2013