Owner/Foreman and OSHA violations for Roofing Co

Hello,

My question is regarding OSHA (WISHA for where I live) violations and using the Employee Misconduct Defense when a foreman/owner is on the job site.

First a little about me: I have experience running a civil construction companies, but I am new to roofing and in the preliminary phases in start one up with 2 other people. So far, I have found this site to be very helpful but I cant seem to find much on this topic…

We would like to break down the company into 3 distinct titles for our partnership agreement

  1. Administration
  2. Sales/Marketing
  3. Operations

The person in charge of Operations has been in the roofing industry for sometime, and is the only one with extensive knowledge on roofing. He essentially would be a foreman for crews.

Since one of the Owners/foreman is on the site, and since he is the supervisor of the crews, if any violations were to occur, the assumption can be made that he was aware of the violation but failed to correct it. Thus, a citation would be difficult to contest. In addition, we could also be dealing with lawsuits stemming from company negligence etc…

Would we have to then structure the partnership agreement in a way that states that the person in charge of operations is ONLY a member of the company but not a owner?

I would like to know if anyone has any ideas or ways where we can protect the interests of the company yet still have one of the owners act as an owner/foreman. (I am not sure if it is possible but any suggestions would be much appreciated because lawyer fees are damn expensive these days!)

Thanks,
Brian

Sorry, but my understanding that it is the owners responsibilities.

I have employee safety handbooks that they all sign. It informs them of everything they must do on each job in order to pass an OSHA inspection. I asked the main guy at the local OSHA office what were to happen if the guys weren’t following it although they signed the handbook. He told me that I should find someone who will make sure they are always in accordance with the regulations.

Just a guess but- No Immediate plans to abide by Safety Guidelines and this post is all about scurrying out from the rules everyone else has to follow?

  1. Administration - Admins installing roofing are roofers.
  2. Sales/Marketing - Salesmen/ women installing roofing are roofers.
  3. Operations - Operations? Surgens installing roofing are roofers.

I’m no Attorney- but “Titles” seem pretty useless in these scenarios.

One more guess… all ya’ll are partners to avoid Workers Comp?

If I need to be corrected please feel free to do so, but from what I interpreted you are posting on a Professional Forum asking Professional Contractors for loopholes so what your costs are lower than ours. Right? Wrong? You tell me.

roofcheck,

No that is not my intent… I want to have NO violations/injuries and I follow OSHA rules to the T and by Washington State Law we must offer workers comp.

Working in Civil I know we need to have safety plans, weekly meetings and employee handbooks, training programs, method for discovering violations and also disciplinary action plan all in place and we plan to do all that. Safety is a main goal of mine and as we all know people getting hurt affects insurance, moral and productivity.

The Roles are going to divided up to protect the interest of the company:
Administrations - Managing business operations, green lighting projects and bids
Sales/Marketing - generating need leads, supply chain management
Operations - Handling the workers and on site responsibilities

However, as a Foreman, I know that it is hard to keep an eye out on everyone, especially if you are doing additional work yourself.

I am not looking for a loophole in how to lower cost, if anything our cost will be a little more with additional insurances we plan to purchase.

What I am asking is if there are any suggestions on a business structure that can protect the company, IF an employee is at fault…

[quote=“briankf”]roofcheck,
Fair Enough
No that is not my intent… I want to have NO violations/injuries and I follow OSHA rules to the T and by Washington State Law we must offer workers comp.

**In my experience OSHA guys are like Building Inspectors and they love to inform us of their book smarts. With that being said they may be best to answer your questions. These Safety Concerns are also that of your Insurance Carrier’s Concerns and they may be able to assist. **]

Working in Civil I know we need to have safety plans, weekly meetings and employee handbooks, training programs, method for discovering violations and also disciplinary action plan all in place and we plan to do all that. Safety is a main goal of mine and as we all know people getting hurt affects insurance, moral and productivity.

**This next part is what threw me off. These roles are IME would typically divided up to lower WC premiums as Office People are much pose much less liability than Roofing itself. How else would it benefit your Stockholders?/ Owners? **
The Roles are going to divided up to protect the interest of the company:
Administrations - Managing business operations, green lighting projects and bids
Sales/Marketing - generating need leads, supply chain management
Operations - Handling the workers and on site responsibilities

However, as a Foreman, I know that it is hard to keep an eye out on everyone, especially if you are doing additional work yourself.

Safety Coordinators are the ones wearing a bright vest and not a tool belt. If the Foreman is distracted by his work and cannot control the monkeys the Safety Plan isn’t working…

I am not looking for a loophole in how to lower cost, if anything our cost will be a little more with additional insurances we plan to purchase.

These and other Safety Issues will be right there in your WC Application, wrong answers may lead to a denial of Coverage either a Policy being written or their loophole to not pay for “Accidents” and reflecting those costs back to the business owners where they belong.

What I am asking is if there are any suggestions on a business structure that can protect the company, IF an employee is at fault…[/quote]

Their injuries wouldn’t be enough? Even with Safety Plans, Safety Policies in effect- someone gets hurt it has to fall back on the Company. Insurance may pay however they are not directly responsible for accidents NOT to happen the Employer is.

That is true, Works Comp will cover the costs of an injury. However, I disagree that the employee is not directly responsible if our company is run right.

If our company can prove that we provided all the means (following OSHA regulations) for a safe as can be work site and that the injury was due to an employee’s gross or willful negligence, how can we be held responsible?

I know that the OSHA violation would be vacated if we can prove this. And also OSHA inspectors would be bought into court on our company’s behalf if any additional lawsuits were to arise protecting our company.

My main question is this: it is impossible to monitor what every employee does on the job site 24/7. (even with a safety coordinator) Also, many construction companies I worked for have a buffer between the ownerships roles and responsibilities and those of the superintendents and foreman’s. Now, if we were to have an owner with responsibilities similar to that of a foreman (who would otherwise be an employee) would we be exposing ourselves to additional risks?

PS Thanks for all your input

Brian

At the end of the day it is your employee and you are responsible. There are checks and balances. Sh*# runs uphill. OSHA will never be your friend in court if someone is hurt. NEVER.

Okay once again, it does not matter. It is your company.

I got a $2400 fine because one of the 4 ladders set up that day was only 2 feet past the gutter line and not 3. All employees signed a handbook saying they acknowledge the ladder has to be extended three feet past the gutter line. It does not matter. YOU, THE EMPLOYER, is who is responsible.

Who do you think paid that fine? Me or my employee?

roofcheck, damn it! What every happened to gravity…

And Checks and Balances is exactly the term I was looking for!
What I been trying to say is that we want to have checks and balances between ownership and the super/foreman, and one between the foreman and the workers.

As owners we are ultimately responsible, but we are also protected because we provided all the means as best as we can to create a safe working place, follow laws, regulations, pay premiums etc…

But by having an owner as a foreman, would the check and balance system be thrown off and safeguards put in place would then become void?

Sorry for all the question. Again I am not looking for any loopholes to save money, I am just trying to shore up any potential pitfalls that could hurt the company.

And BAMBAMM5144 thanks for your input too.

As a matter of fact there was a situation at the company I was at regarding a trench. We got cited, however it was vacated because the owner knew about OSHA and WC policies. And just having the employer establish and adequately communicate safety rules is not enough.

Also, you need to provide and/or require proper safety equipment, taken steps to discover violations of its rules and also effectively enforce its safety rules. Since we were able to prove in writing that we did these things, our citation was dropped.

OSHA doesn’t care about the how/why/who. They are there to write the ticket.

Not sure if it is legal to garnish wages of those breaking the rules or not. Your State Dept. of Labor may have answers for you if it is legal or not if a Contract is issued between Employer/ Employee.

Regardless of the job description an owner titled as a foreman is still an owner and will be held accountable as such.

Although an OSHA inspector may allow that a non owner job site foreman be held liable and accountable for an accident and not cite the owner or owners, I believe that would be a rare case.

The company holds some responsibility. It was businesses that wanted a Workers Compensation Program installed so injured workers or families of deceased workers couldn’t sue the business. Injured workers rights to anything (better insurance, healthcare and treatments) were swept away and businesses were held accountable to the Program (WCB) ONLY, not the worker or workers families. I know that the employee and employer share the responsibility of safety enforcement, and no contract between employer and employee can void that responsibility.

I have seen instances of an employed framer get a $5000 fine for not wearing a rope and harness while walking on a 12 foot wall. His employer, got a $10,000 fine for not having a safety plan in place, the main contractor on site also got a $25,000 for not having any safety plans in place. Everyone is responsible.
I have also been on huge projects where they employ 3-4 safety monitors who take pictures all day long.

some!?! try all…sure employee will sometimes get fine but company ALWAYS does…

Great thread. I wish someone would speak up! I am also wanting to re structure my biz in order to protect myself from osha. Somehow, some way! Anyone know an osha attorney or an attorney fighting osha? Just got a fine in the mail. 3k For someone seen without a rope hooked to their harness. I am so disgusted i could puke to put it nicely. I am pretty sure my being on the job and begging, pleading with the osha inspector kept my fine from being 20-30k. is seems no matter how fully compliant you think you are. YOU ARE NOT!
When they stop at your job, they are not there to help you. They are there to fine you as much as they can.
please personal message me if you know you can help and dont want it public. Please!!!
Any information AT ALL concerning osha will be GREATLY appreciated.

That’s what makes me laugh at our “OSHA” up here. They used to be called Workers Compensation Board, but then they renamed it to WorksafeBC to sound more helpfull. In the end they are just an insurance company trying to make/save the most amount of money possible.

Roof-Lover, here’s a good read if you haven’t already.
Know When It’s Best To Fight an OSHA Citation

thankyou for the read bcdemon.

just hate being a criminal for things i am actually proud of.
Just hate being a criminal for things i have done all my adult life.

Freedom is over and we have brain dead idiots that want to vote for obum