Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Rancho Santa Margarita contractor cited for nail gun injuries; 34 since 2016

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Regulators said Tuesday they fined a Rancho Santa Margarita construction company $225,000 for failing to properly train employees after dozens of job injuries involving nail guns and other violations.

Cal/OSHA issued two citations on Oct. 15 against Circle M Contractors, 29712 Avenida De Las Banderas, the state Department of Industrial Relations said in a statement.

The construction and framing firm is accused of failing to ensure that employees were safely handling nailing tools or adequately trained in their use. A review of the company’s injury log showed 34 nail gun-related injuries since 2016. The recently closed investigation is the fifth case against the contractor to result in fines since 2014, OSHA records show.

“That is a lot and a cause for concern,” said DIR spokesman Frank Polizzi. “In this case, the company’s logs reinforced what the inspections were showing.”

Officials at Circle M Contractors couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

This latest case was filed after an employee unintentionally fired a nail into his left arm while working in April in Lake Forest. The company was cited for a similar accident in 2015 when a person working in San Diego slipped and shot a nail into his knee while installing hanger brackets, according to the DIR statement.

It said two other Circle M workers were injured in falls that year. One suffered a fractured leg and spinal injuries when he fell 11 feet in December 2015, according to Polizzi. He said that, about nine months earlier, another carpenter was doing work on a first floor roof when he fell 9 feet and fractured his wrist.

A sixth investigation is ongoing tied to an accident in May at a job site in Escondido, according to OSHA records.

Polizzi said CAL/OSHA officials did not find reason to shut down any Circle M projects or order a work stoppage in any of the cases mentioned.

The company has until Nov. 5 to appeal the latest citations, but had not done so by Tuesday evening, according to Polizzi. However, OSHA records show that the firm has contested all prior violations, managing to negotiate $42,310 in initially proposed fines down to a total of $8,320 paid in penalties going as far back as 2014.

“If an employer has a history of inspections and did appeal in the past, you would expect them to do so again,” said Polizzi. “Inspection is closed, but this case is ongoing.”

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