State: HI Uninsured Contractors Fined, State Investigating other Complaints:

A task force comprised of multiple state agencies fined contractors building a townhouse project $45,025 for not carrying workers’ compensation insurance and multiple safety violations, according to a report by Hawaii News Now.

Deputy State Labor Director Audrey Hidano said seven contractors and subcontractors at the project in West Oahu were fined a combined $19,550 for not carrying workers’ compensation insurance. The contractors have coverage now, Hawaii News Now reported.

Hidano also said inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health Division found 33 serious safety violations and proposed citations, totaling $25,457, against five companies. Violations included not capping pieces of rebar, exposed and frayed electrical wire, and failure to use personal protective equipment, such as safety harnesses and hard hats.

“That’s like the No. 1 rule — working with a hard hat — which they were not doing, including upper management people who were walking on the job site,” Hidano said.

Brandon Jones, an on-site representative of project developer Keller Enterprises, told Hawaii News Now that 95% of safety violations were fixed within 24 hours. Harrison Horn Jr., the project’s quality engineer, said the state’s inspection was “fair and balanced and helpful, actually.”

The Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs is trying to determine if contractors at the West Oahu development site were properly licensed, while the Hawaiian Taxation Department is investigating whether workers interviewed in November were getting paid off the books so the contractors could avoid paying taxes.

The Hawaii Department of Labor is one of 13 states that signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Department of Labor to crack down on employee misclassification and other so-called “underground economy” violations. Hawaii signed the agreement on July 20, 2011.

Other states that have signed the memorandum include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Utah and Washington.

Source: Hawaii News Now, WorkCompCentral

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