The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration has fined an Ephrata construction firm $64,400 for failing to protect its workers from potential falls.
Burkholder Builders, 580 Indiantown Road, was cited for seven safety violations at a multi-family residential construction project at 443-447 Marlene Way in Leola.
OSHA said Thursday the construction firm committed two willful violations, four serious violations and one other-than-serious violation.
The key issue, said OSHA, was that Burkholder Builders failed to protect its workers from potential falls off roofs and scaffolding as high as 17 1/2 feet — nearly two stories.
The violations were discovered when OSHA visited the jobsite on Nov. 16.
Burkholder Builders committed willful violations, said OSHA, by having workers on platforms nearly 17 feet high without fall protection (a $28,000 fine) and by having workers put shingles on a roof 17 1/2 feet high without fall protection (also a $28,000 fine).
Fall protection measures include guardrails and toeboards.
According to OSHA, the serious violations were:
Allowing workers to be lifted on platforms that were too wide for the forklift raising them; not providing eye protection for workers using a nail gun; not having an operator at the controls of the forklifts holding up the elevated platforms; and the improper use of a portable ladder.
Fines for these violations ranged from $1,600 to $2,800.
The company was also cited for not training employees on the proper use of the nail gun. There was no fine for this violation.
Kevin Kilp, director of OSHA’s Harrisburg area office, in a prepared statement called Burkholder Builders “reckless.”
Kilp noted that OSHA fined the construction firm in 2006 following a fatal fall at one of its worksites, so owner Leon Ray Burkholder “knew that fall protection was necessary, yet chose not to use it.”
In the 2006 incident, OSHA fined Burkholder Builders $5,600 for two serious violations at an Elizabethtown jobsite. The two sides later agreed to a $4,480 fine, an OSHA spokeswoman said.
Burkholder could not be immediately reached for comment.
When cited by OSHA, a company has 15 days to comply, request an informal conference with the area director or contest the findings.