N.Y. manufacturer fined, citations upheld for falsely claiming violations corrected

An administrative law judge with the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission has upheld citations and penalties from 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, N.Y., 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 in a U.S. Department of Labor press release.

OSHA’s Syracuse Area Office conducted the inspection. Senior Trial Attorney Susan Jacobs of the regional Office of the Solicitor in New York litigated the case for OSHA.

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