The 10 biggest contractor fines under Trump’s OSHA
During the Obama administration, Occupational Safety and Health Administration press releases that accompanied safety violation citations and notices of proposed fines were often of the “shaming” variety, according to Edwin G. Foulke Jr., former assistant secretary of labor for OSHA under President George W. Bush. He said the approach seemed to be a strategy to force construction contractors or companies in other industries to retroactively take a look at their safety programs and tighten them up before an OSHA inspector made his or her way into their workplaces.
Last year, Foulke told Construction Dive that OSHA’s use of what he considered inflammatory language in press releases did not foster safe work practices. Instead, he said he believed that OSHA should take a more proactive approach to helping businesses comply with safety rules and regulations.
That’s ostensibly the position the “new” OSHA took once President Donald Trump was sworn in. The flow of press releases stopped completely for a while and when they resumed, what some considered aggressive language in OSHA statements seemed to be replaced with a more factual, straightforward tone.
However, that doesn’t mean OSHA stopped citing and fining companies. In fact, since Trump took office, OSHA has proposed some of the biggest penalties in recent years. Ten of the biggest construction industry fines, based on the most recent OSHA records available, range from approximately $1.5 million to a little more than $271,000. Fall protection violations and trench violations make a strong showing on the list, as does the fact that many of these citations and proposed fines are being contested or negotiated down as part of informal or formal settlement agreements.
Great White Construction, Jacksonville, Florida – $1,523,710
The $1.5 million-plus fine OSHA proposed for Great White is actually two fines combined – one for citations totaling $850,128 and the other for citations totaling $673,582. But both were issued Aug. 1, 2017, after earlier inspections at two of the company’s job sites.
The violations were primarily for fall protection and eye hazards, but the company has been cited 22 times for these same issues since 2012. This has landed the commercial and residential roofer in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, through which it will be subject to increased inspections and monitoring.
Atlantic Drain Service Co., Boston, Massachusetts – $1,475,813
While Great White’s two big fines pushed Atlantic Drain to second place on the list, it is actually the recipient of the biggest single fine OSHA has issued since Trump took office.