When an alert OSHA inspector en route to his office last November spotted what looked like fall hazards at a Massachusetts worksite, he stopped and opened an inspection “on the spot,” according to the agency.

That impromptu action ended with Georgoulis Construction Inc., being cited for alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards at the Tewksbury site. The Dracut roofing contractor faces a total of $53,000 in proposed fines, according to the agency.

OSHA found Georgoulis employees exposed to falls while working atop a roof greater than 6 feet without any fall protection. They were exposed to an additional fall hazard while accessing the roof by using a ladder that did not extend at least 3 feet above the landing surface for required stability.

OSHA area director for Middlesex and Essex counties Jeffery A. Erskine said there is “no reason for failing to provide this essential and legally required safeguard for workers.”

Erskine added: "The size of this penalty reflects the gravity of the hazard and the employer's knowledge of its existence. A fall can occur in seconds but the resulting injuries can be permanent or end a life.”

The wilful citation for the lack of fall protection carries a $49,000 fine; the ladder hazard a $4,900 fine.