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OSHA Hits Company with Proposed Fines of $235,500 for Scaffolding and Fall Hazards

Monday, February 7, 2011

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OSHA issued “willful” and “serious” citations to NER Construction Management Inc., Wilmington, Mass., for allegedly exposing workers to fall, scaffolding and other hazards at a worksite in Boston.

The company, a building-restoration and masonry contractor, faces a total of $235,500 in proposed fines.

OSHA’s Region 1 office in Braintree, Mass., said an inspection found NER employees exposed to falls of up to 17 feet due to a lack of fall protection while power washing the side of a building and while dismantling scaffolding. An additional fall hazard stemmed from the employer’s failure to fully plank the scaffolding from which the employee performed the power washing, the agency said.

As a result of the conditions, OSHA issued the company three willful citations with $210,000 in proposed fines. A willful violation exists when an employer has demonstrated either an intentional disregard for the requirements of the law or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

OSHA also issued six serious citations with $23,500 in fines for improper scaffold erection; missing guardrails; failure to certify that employees had been trained and evaluated to safely operate powered industrial trucks; lack of emergency eyewashing facilities; and failure to ensure the use of eye, face and head protection.

OSHA also issued two other-than-serious citations with $2,000 in fines for inadequate recordkeeping.

A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm, OSHA said.

NER Construction Management has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with the OSHA area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

“A fatal or disabling fall can end a life or a career in seconds,” said Brenda Gordon, OSHA’s area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts. “Scaffolding is an essential tool—and fall protection a basic and required safeguard—for this type of work. There’s no reason for an employer’s failure to have proper and effective protections in place and in use at all times at all jobsites.”

Detailed information on hazards and safeguards for scaffolds and falls in construction is available to workers and employers at Scaffold Safeguards and Fall Safeguards.


Tagged categories: Enforcement; Fall protection; Health and safety; OSHA; Scaffolding

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