September 2020 Enforcement

Administrative Law Judge Upholds U.S. Department of Labor Citations And Penalties to Manufacturer That Falsely Claimed Violations' Abatement

An administrative law judge with the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission upholds citations and penalties from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) against Timberline Hardwood Floors LLC, a custom hardwood-flooring manufacturer that falsely claimed to have corrected previously cited hazards. The judge’s decision also orders the company to pay $166,265 in penalties for all violations.

In 2012, OSHA cited Timberline’s predecessor entity, Timberline Hardwood Dimensions Inc., for failing to train forklift operators adequately, and develop and implement lockout/tagout, hearing conservation, and chemical hazard communication programs at the Fulton, New York, plant. At that time, Thomas Vavra, a co-owner of both the predecessor and the current company, signed abatement certifications declaring the company had corrected those violations.

In 2018, an OSHA inspection found the company had not corrected the violations and the abatement claim was false. OSHA cited Timberline Hardwood Floors LLC for willful violations for those uncorrected hazards. Timberline contested the citations to the review commission. The judge issued a decision on July 9, 2020, affirming each of the willful citations, and seven serious citations from the 2018 inspection for violations including a locked emergency exit, unguarded machines, and several electrical hazards.

“Employers have a duty to take effective actions to correct hazards and prevent their recurrence, and provide truthful information as to hazard abatement,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Richard Mendelson in New York.

“The U.S. Department of Labor pursues appropriate legal actions to ensure that employers comply with the law, including when they refuse to correct workplace hazards that expose their employees to potentially fatal or disabling injuries,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey S. Rogoff in New York.

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