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Mon June 14 2021

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Judge upholds $249k penalty for New York scaffold hazards

10 Jul 16 A judge has upheld the US Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s proposed penalties of US$249,920 (£192,885) for scaffold hazards at a Manhattan hotel construction site.

Flintlock Construction Services LLC of Mamaroneck, New York, was the general contractor for the construction of a 23-storey hotel. An inspection by OSHA found that Flintlock failed to protect employees working on scaffolding from potentially fatal falls of up to 7.9m. In September 2013, OSHA cited Flintlock for willful and serious violations and proposed the penalties.

Flintlock contested its citations and penalties to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The contractor alleged that some violations were not willful because its corporate principals did not have knowledge of the hazards and Flintlock made at least a minimal attempt at compliance.

After review, chief administrative law judge Covette Rooney upheld all the citations and penalties. The judge found Flintlock had knowledge of the hazards and the authority to have its subcontractors correct safety hazards. The court also held Flintlock responsible for the oversight of safe working conditions and determined it was the controlling employer at the site. The judge's decision also ordered Flintlock to pay the $249,920 in penalties.

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"This was a clear case of an employer knowingly placing its employees at risk of deadly or disabling injuries caused by the number one killer in construction work – falls,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York. “Judge Rooney's decision upholds our findings and reiterates an important fact: Employers cannot ignore their legal responsibility to safeguard their employees and adhere to workplace safety standards."

Flintlock Construction Services LLC has filed a petition for discretionary review with the review commission.

The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Manhattan Area Office and the case is being litigated for OSHA by the Labor Department's regional Office of the Solicitor in New York.

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