The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

April 17, 2013

OSHA inspector placed in counseling

By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item

— WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal inspector accused by Valley home builders last fall of bizarre intimidation tactics and, in at least one case, sexual harassment of a female construction worker is in counseling following a Labor Department investigation.

The inspector for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration still is employed but is under close supervision, according to a legislative assistant to U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-10 of Cogan Station.

The inspector is a military veteran who served two tours in the Middle East. He is receiving counseling through a Department of Veterans Affairs facility.

OSHA officials said the inspector was “very accepting of the help and grateful not to be losing his job,”

Richard Fairfax, deputy assistant secretary of labor for Occupational Safety and Health, and the agency’s congressional liaison discussed the investigation findings with a representative at Marino's office last week.

This concludes a nearly six-month investigation that began in October when Marino sent a letter to OSHA Assistant Secretary David Morris Michaels, demanding the agency look into “stunning” allegations by members of the Central Susquehanna Builders Association.

The nonprofit group in Mifflinburg represents home builders in Valley counties and brought the matter to Marino’s attention.

As many as 10 incidents involving its members over six to eight months last year included improperly documented citations, such as issuing two citations for a single act; falsely reporting facts as the basis for a citation; unnecessarily prolonged and warrantless inspections; and alleged sexual harassment for unwarranted and unwelcome attention to a woman construction worker.

The investigation stalled as some of the home builders later gave toned-down statements about the incidents. About half of the 31 builders contacted didn’t give statements at all.

However, the testimony to OSHA to have the inspector report for couseling.

Marino’s office wasn’t able to obtain a copy of OSHA’s report because it is a personnel issue. The identity of the inspector also could not be revealed.