The U.S. Department of Labor is proposing $48,510 in penalties for a Sea Isle City company for what it says was repeated exposure of workers to potential fall hazards over the past few years.
The department’s Occupa-tional Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, said Tuesday that JF Builders Inc. is being cited with serious violations following job site inspections in 2012, 2011 and 2009.
Owner Joe Freda said the most recent citations for work at a job site on Pleasure Avenue in November are unfounded, and he planned to dispute the allegations.
“We are contesting everything,” Freda said. He said his workers were trained in fall prevention and were wearing proper safety gear, such as lanyards and hard hats.
No injuries were reported because of the alleged incidents, but the department said the violations arose because it is putting an increased emphasis on preventing workplace falls.
“Falls remain the leading cause of death and serious injury in the construction industry,” Paula Dixon-Roderick, director of OSHA’s Marlton area office, said in a statement. “It is imperative for employers to ensure their workers have adequate protection and are safe in the workplace.”
Freda has owned his company, based on Landis Avenue, for 35 years. He said not only were his workers complying with all safety laws, but dozens of other construction crews in the city apparently were not in compliance during the weeks after Hurricane Sandy.
In regard to the past citations, Freda said, he found it easier to simply pay the fines, but this time he said he would hire an attorney and fighting the allegations.
“I don’t know what OSHA’s political motivations are, but if I find out that someone illegally targeted my business, then someone should be going to jail,” he said.
According to OSHA, the company repeatedly exposed workers to fall hazards of approximately 12 feet above the ground. In November, it said, a worker was exposed to dangerous conditions while working on top of a wooden pallet that was raised in the air on the forks of a front-end loader.
Department spokeswoman Leni Fortson said that citation stemmed from a November investigation of a job site where a worker was installing new finishings on the outside of a second-floor window.
Freda disputed that, saying instead that the worker was less than 6 feet off the ground, in compliance with height restrictions for such an activity.
“They never walked inside our building,” he said of the condominium complex he was building. “They stood outside, took some pictures and left.”
The company has 15 business days from receiving the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director in Marlton, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
“There were no violations on my job site,” Freda said.
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