US govt sues construction company to collect OSHA penalties

The U.S. government is suing a construction company to collect on $39,849 in penalties slapped against it for alleged violations of Occupational Safety and Health Administration laws in 2013 and 2016.

The U.S. government, through assistant U.S. attorney Jessica F. Wessling, asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI to hold NorthPac Corp. liable to pay $21,876.31 in the first violation and $17,972.88 in the second violation, for a total of $39,849.19 as of April 10, 2019, plus interest and costs.

Saipan Tribune was still awaiting NorthPac Corp.’s comments as of press time.

According to Wessling in the complaint, OSHA first cited NorthPac for numerous OSHA violations and penalized it after an inspection of its job site at the Army Reserve Center’s partition fence project in Puerto Rico in 2013.

NorthPac contested the penalties, sat down with OSHA, then came to an agreement about the disputed citations, penalties, and abatement dates.

OSHA says nothing came out of that and, about three months later, it sent a collection letter to the company and demanded the immediate payment of $16,036.

Wessling said that, as of the date of the OSHA complaint, NorthPac has not paid any amount of the penalty assessed for the 2013 violations in the amount of $21,876, including interest and delinquency fee.

In the other case, OSHA again cited NorthPac for alleged numerous violations in 2016 after an inspection of its job site at the Northern Marianas College on Saipan.

Again, NorthPac contested the citations and the proposed penalties.

Wessling said that on Oct. 21, 2016, an OSHA official emailed NorthPac with a proposed settlement agreement that reduced the penalty and grouped the repeat violations into one penalty. NorthPac allegedly did not respond to the email.

In November 2017, the OSHA Commission issued its decision holding that the standards were violated and that the company was in default and the citations were affirmed in their entirety.

Up to now, NorthPac has not paid any amount of the $17,972, despite demand.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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