After 20 years of litigation, the US Department of Labor is celebrating victory in an epic legal battle to make a construction company boss pay penalties for site safety violations committed in 1998.
This successful outcome demonstrates that the US Department of Labor will use all appropriate and available legal tools to ensure that employers do not evade accountability for failing to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Act– Jeffrey S. Rogoff, Regional Solicitor of Labor
New Jersey-based Altor Inc. and its president Vasilios Saites last week finally agreed to pay the original fine of $412,000 plus another $30,000 in interest after a US Court of Appeals in Philadelphia found in July that they were in contempt for failing to pay the original penalties.
The case dates back to October 1998, when the local Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) office investigated an Altor Inc. site in Edgewater, New Jersey and found numerous safety violations including multiple wilful violations of fall protection standards.
The two-decade-long litigation included multiple hearings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) and the Court of Appeals. Four different lawyers fought the case for OSHA before the case was settled to the department’s satisfaction on 26 November.Â
"This successful outcome demonstrates that the US Department of Labor will use all appropriate and available legal tools to ensure that employers do not evade accountability for failing to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Act," said Regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey S. Rogoff.
He his department worked with the US Attorney’s Office District of New Jersey to "help ensure that workplaces are safe and that employers who violate the law do not gain an unfair economic advantage over law-abiding competitors".
OSHA Regional Administrator Richard Mendelson said: "These penalties were assessed because Altor Inc. allowed their employees to be exposed to dangerous falls and other hazards. By planning ahead, training employees, and providing the right equipment, employers can protect their workers, prevent falls and other hazards in the workplace, and avoid OSHA fines."
Image: Â©GCR, illustration by Denis Carrier