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OSHA inspector on bike in Cambridge Massachusetts detains contractors

Posted by Mark Paskell on Wed, Jul 13, 2011 @ 10:25 PM

Looks like OSHA inspectors are going green; an OSHA enforcement officer shows up at a construction job site on bike in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

       bike picture   New OSHA Enforcement Vehicle   osha

I got a call from a contractor in Arlington, Ma this morning and he asked me if I had ever heard of OSHA officers visiting job sites on bikes. I said never heard of such a thing, first for me. It turns out the report came from his plasterer who was on the job site in question. I know this plasterer personally so I called him and he granted me an interview and permission to share the story.

The plasterer was measuring a job for pricing in Cambridge, Ma. When he arrived at the site there was a demolition crew working on the second floor. They were throwing debris out the window onto the ground below. The debris was blowing all over the yard and adjacent properties. Out of nowhere a man shows up on a bike and stops. He yells up to the crew and says what are you doing? One of the crew members responds in a rough manner who the h**ll are you? The man on bike responds I am from OSHA. Then the verbs started to fly. The plasterer said there were a lot of French words spewing from the workers mouth toward the OSHA inspector. The plasterer said the OSHA inspector received an intense verbal assault. In a few moments the inspector was visibly disturbed. Then the fireworks began.

OSHA Inspector Calls In The Calvary    

The OSHA inspector called in the Cambridge Building Inspectors, DIA (Division of Industrial Accidents), and Mass Lead inspectors. The calvary's offices (Boston and Newton) are very close to the job site. My plasterer friend was about to leave and he was ordered to stay put until he was questioned. The plasterer respected the request out of concern that he would be a target later. He said there were six inpsectors on site. He was detained for over an hour. He was asked to provide proof of insurance, licensing, registration number and RRP lead license. The plasterer was only there to bid the job! Thankfully he was successfully vetted.

General Contractor and Demolition Crew Have a Bad Day 

The general contractor was not on site when the OSHA inspector arrived. However he was called by the demo crew and came quickly to meet the inspector. Turns out there was no permit pulled for the job. The homeowner was informed and she said I thought they were fully insured and pulled all the necessary permits. (never heard that one before). Imagine doing a job in Cambridge, Ma. with no permit and the building inspector is called to come support a fellow enforcement officer who is under attack by a belligerent contractor! Ouch!

Can you imagine what DIA found when they ran a background check on the demolition crew and the general contractor? Do you think they were properly insured with workers compensation and general liability coverage? Do you think the crew is paid above the table with taxes and unemployment insurance properly covered by the employer? If these items are not properly covered do you think DIA may refer the case over to the Attorney General, Department of Revenue and Consumer Affairs offices? (FYI there is an underground task force in Mass where regulatory agencies make referrals to each other)

With debris all over the yard on an older home do you think that the Mass RRP Lead officer is worried that the homeowner and or demo crew is lead poisoned? He will check to see if they are RRP licensed and certified. He will ask if they had their blood tested for lead. He will question have the workers been exposed to dangerous amounts of lead dust. If yes there will be OSHA enforcement against the general contractor and demolition sub for violating the Lead in Construction Standard.

This is the fourth report from a contractor this week regarding an OSHA visit. OSHA inspectors are popping up all over the state. It seems that the inspectors are most interested in fall protection, written safety manuals and lead. Most inspectors show up in cars. Now we learned they use bikes too. If you think about it in the urban neighborhoods they can cover a lot more territory on bike. We may even see some show up on foot. 

Please let contractors you know that OSHA has stepped up their enforcement on the residential industry. If you are visited by OSHA remember this story and try to maintain your cool even if you are unhappy about a visit. I was told by an OSHA trainer recently when you meet a OSHA inspector talk to him or her just like you would speak to a building inspector.   

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Tags: osha enforcement