Salem – When it comes to protecting workers from the dangers of construction sites – including fall hazards that can lead to serious injury or death – Colima Construction continues to face serious challenges.
Colima’s apparent inability to follow safety standards is not without consequences: In a series of enforcement actions, Oregon OSHA has fined the Canby-based general contractor nearly $235,000 for violating multiple job safety rules – repeatedly in several instances – at jobsites in Bend, Aumsville, and Tigard.
The citations are the latest against Colima, which has a record of overlooking worksite safety requirements, including breaking fall protection rules addressing similar hazards at least six times since 2017. These repeated violations prompted Oregon OSHA to once again exercise its discretionary authority to steeply increase penalties.
“It is inexcusable to ignore practical safety standards that have, time and again, proven effective at protecting workers from on-the-job hazards,” said Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood. “Yet, this employer continues to disregard the need to effectively address those rules, sidestepping its responsibilities and putting lives at needless risk.”
The fines totaling $234,850 stem from three citations the division issued against the company in March and April 2020. The citations resulted from three separate inspections.
They follow two citations – totaling more than $120,000 – that Oregon OSHA issued against the company in September 2019. Those citations were for the company’s failure to meet fall protection requirements at jobsites at a residential development in Eugene.
Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry.
Here is a summary of each of the three enforcement actions against Colima this year:
Citation issued April 29
This inspection of the company’s work to frame exterior walls on the second floor of a residential structure in Bend found five serious violations – two of them repeat offenses:
- In using a guardrail system as the only type of fall protection for workers, the company failed to ensure the system’s top edge height was between 39 inches and 45 inches above the walking/working surface. Proposed penalty: $910, reflecting increases in the base penalty because of poor faith and negative history.
- The employer did not ensure the guardrail system – which did not have a wall or parapet at least 21 inches high – included a mid-rail, screen, or similar protective structure. Proposed penalty: $4,450, reflecting increases in the base penalty because of poor faith and negative history.
- The company failed to ensure that employees walking below the second-floor crew wore hardhats, exposing them to head injuries from objects that could fall, including lumber blocks and nail guns. Proposed penalty: $390.
- In a repeat violation, the company exposed employees to potential falls of 11 feet without any fall-protection measures, such as personal fall arrest systems. It was a violation of an Oregon OSHA trigger-height rule in construction requiring fall protection where workers are exposed to falling six feet or more to a lower level.
- The company exposed employees to the potential of tripping or stepping into a hole – created by an unprotected stairwell – and falling nine feet. It was a repeat violation.
For this citation, Oregon OSHA proposed a total penalty of $87,850. That includes a discretionary $75,000 fine for Colima’s violation of the six-foot trigger-height protection from falls rule. The company has broken the rule at least six times since 2017.
The fine amount also reflects an increase in the base penalty for the other repeat violation – the third time the company has breached the rule against unprotected holes. Also, it includes a 30 percent increase in the base penalties assigned to the other violations, accounting for Colima’s poor faith and negative history.
Citation issued April 15
This inspection of roofing work on an under-construction house in Aumsville discovered the company exposed at least one worker to a potential 12-foot fall by failing to provide fall protection.
It was another repeat violation of the six-foot trigger-height rules. On a discretionary basis, Oregon OSHA proposed a total penalty of $122,500.
Citation issued March 20
This inspection centered on a multi-story building project in Tigard.
It found the company failed to ensure that the personal fall arrest system being used by a worker – who was standing about eight feet high on elevated joists and the top of framed walls – was correctly rigged to prevent him from falling more than six feet and hitting a lower level.
For this repeat violation, Oregon OSHA used its discretionary authority to issue a total proposed penalty of $24,500.
Colima has filed appeals of the April 15 and March 20 citations. The company also appealed the two citations issued in September 2019.
In addition to its enforcement activities, Oregon OSHA offers employers resources to help improve workplace safety and health. Those resources include the division’s A-to-Z topic page about fall protection.
The division encourages employers to take its Fundamentals of Fall Protection online video training.