Chicago area contractor fined for repeat violations
For the sixth time in seven years, an OSHA federal workplace inspection has found that a Roselle, Illinois construction company has been putting workers at risk of serious injury or death by defying federal requirements to ensure the use of fall protection.
OSHA cited the company for one willful, five repeat and two serious safety violations, and proposed $229,792 in penalties. OSHA previously identified similar hazards present at the company’s work sites in February 2021, May 2020, February 2018, December 2017 and October 2017, and issued citations for those violations as well. The company has not resolved these citation issues, so OSHA has referred over $170,000 in unpaid penalties to debt collection.
OSHA additionally reported that the crew was working without required eye protection and hard hats and was exposed to fall hazards due to improper ladder use and lack of stair rails. Further, the employer had not trained its employees on how to avoid fall hazards.
In 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 1,061 construction workers died on the job, 401 after a fall from elevation. Fall protection violations continue to be the most frequently cited issue in construction industry inspections.
Visalia Contractor Fined for Wage Theft
A California drywall company whose employees engage in a significant amount of painting has been ticked for over $7 million in wage theft violations affecting 724 workers. The workers, who along with putting up drywall provided painting services and stucco application, were paid by the piece, which often left them receiving less than minimum wage. Along with the back pay, this citation included violations regarding overtime, meal period premiums, and itemized wage statements.
“Workers earning piece rate must be paid for their rest periods and other non-productive time while under the control of the employer,” said Labor Commissioner Lilia García-Brower. “The law ensures workers can take their required rest breaks and are paid for travel time from one worksite to another.” A 2016 California law regarding piece-rate compensation requires those workers also be paid for mandated rest and recovery periods and other work time that does not generate piece-rate earnings.
Workers who are paid under minimum wage are entitled to what’s called “liquidated damages,” which includes back pay plus interest.
The construction company has stated that it has since began an internal audit of its procedures and has been diligent in trying to comply with the labor laws. The CEO stated the company will compensate its employees fairly and with interest and that he is working closely with the California Department of Industrial Relations to resolve any issues and move forward from here.
Nashville contractor isn’t really a contractor
A Nashville, Tennessee couple learned the hard way not to pay for the entire job up front, as a man posing as a contractor took a check for over $17,000 for a home addition. He cashed the check, did a bit of spray painting, and hasn’t been seen since. Any searches, even those conducted by a local news station, have failed to locate the con-artist, and in fact, there was no record of this contractor being licensed in the state of Tennessee.
Through an internet search, the couple discovered after the fact that others had been scammed by this man dating back as much as 20 years.
A spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance reminded homeowners that with the increased demand for contracting work, coupled with a labor shortage, they may need to wait longer than expected for quality work, but that it’s important to investigate anyone they hire.
If nothing else, this should encourage legitimate contractors to market their credentials.
41 in Pac Northwest fined for RRP violations
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 10 has reached settlements with 41 residential home renovators in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington for violations of federal lead-based paint regulations. The terms of the settlements, along with assessing civil penalties, required the companies to certify that they are complying with the RRP rule prior to performing any renovations where lead paint may be present.
The companies were assessed fines of either $200 or $1000, with one company required to pay $1,777.
“By bringing companies into compliance with the lead safety Renovation, Repair and Painting rule, which includes firm certification and training to work safely with lead-based paint, it protects future customers and their families and the construction workers. In this way, the impact of these settlements is exponential,” said Ed Kowalski, Director of EPA Region 10’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division.
They're Giving Painters a Bad Name
It's the same old story, there are crooks everywhere, the painting industry has it's share along with electrical contractors, builders, plumbers, roofers, lawn maintenance.......There is consumer education everywhere but most of it is a rip off and useless as well. Speaking as a professional painting contractor these are my recommendations for hiring a contractor. Forget consumer reports, nobody is going to take responsibility for your actions, period! The BBB can be a minor guideline but understand, the BBB is not a government agency even though it will have a state or region name on it. The BBB's are private entities supported by business memberships who protect the business owner as well as the consumer when a complaint is issued. Job References, don't be afraid to check them, that's why they are given! Choose a contractor who has been in business more than a day or two and do not fall for a contractor who says his "dream" has always been to own his own business, it could turn into a nightmare! A contractor who first becomes a professional painter through apprenticeship training, works a number of years for a professional contractor then decides free enterprise is for him is someone to consider contracting with. Who is doing the actual work? After a smooth talking estimator leaves and a group of strangers show up on your doorstep, strangers who you may or may not be able to communicate with, it may be a little late to think about following sensible rules of hiring. Don't be greedy! Expect to pay for what you get! A cheap price will get you a cheap, poorly done job. Greed actually helps unscrupulous contractors, because they prey on your greed. If a job has a value of $5,000, don't shop around until you find a joker who says he will do it for $2,500! There is no possible way it could work but consumers take the bait everyday. In the end, using common sense and not letting greed get in the way may help the consumer avoid costly mistakes. And as always, Caveat Emptor!
They're Giving Painters a Bad Name
Large Companies, School Corporations, Home Builders and General Contractors all have a history of taking the low bid. Also, the trend to hire a "preferred painting contractor" referred by their insurance carrier could be problematic as well. The low bidders and preferred contractors are no doubt the contractors featured in this article.
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