A pair of OSHA inspectors had just finished a workplace inspection and were heading back to their Providence, Rhode Island office when they caught sight of a dangerous situation at another site.
Two men working for roofing contractor Ivan Paredes were on a ladder-jack scaffold without guardrails, and with no protective gear to keep them from falling 16 feet to the ground. The two federal inspectors immediately pulled over, ordered the employees off the scaffold and began an inspection of the North Smithfield site.
"This was a clear-and-present danger. These employees could have fallen at any time and been killed or disabled. Ivan Paredes knew of this hazard, but chose to ignore it and his legal responsibility to protect his employees," said Patrick Griffin, OSHA's area director for Rhode Island.
Paredes' failure to provide and ensure the use of fall protection led OSHA to cite the contractor for a willful violation of worker safety standards. He now faces a $70,000 fine, the maximum allowed under the law. Paredes was also cited for a serious violation, with a fine of $2,800, for an additional hazard for not having his employees use an access ladder to reach the scaffold's work platform safely. The proposed fines total $72,800.
OSHA has cited Paredes, who also operates as Lincoln Construction, for fall-related hazards seven times since October 2010, at work sites in East Greenwich, Middletown, Newport, Portsmouth and Providence.
"Fortunately, most employers know and obey the law,” said Griffin.