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OSHA Hits Georgia Stucco Contractor with $78,000 Tab for Fall-Protection Violations

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Escape Stucco and Stone of Powder Springs, Ga., for six alleged “repeat” and three “serious” violations of work-place safety standards.

The company faces a total of $78,000 in penalties following a recent inspection in which workers were exposed to fall hazards while replacing a chimney in Smyrna, Ga., OSHA said.

Rudy Driver of Escape Stucco and Stone told Durability + Design in an email comment that he or his company did not build or supply the scaffolds used on the project. He added, “I don’t have nor think I should be responsible for $78,000.”

“At this point I will be filing bankruptcy, putting yet another small business out of business,” he said.

OSHA said the company’s six “repeat” violations, totaling $70,000 in penalties, are similar to others for which the company was previously cited for, including:

• allowing  employees to use a scaffolding system that was not fully planked;

• permitting the scaffolding legs not to be adequately supported on the base plates;

• failing to have a ladder on the scaffolding as a means to access and exit the working platform;

• failing to protect workers from falling more than 25 feet by having a guardrail, safety net or personal arrest system in place;

• missing cross bracing on the scaffolding system; and

• not ensuring employees working on a fabricated frame scaffold were trained to recognize and minimize hazards.

A repeat violation is issued when an employer previously has been cited for the same or similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

The company was cited for these same violations in December 2010 and January 2011, OSHA said.

The company’s three “serious” violations, carrying $8,000 in penalties, include:

• failure to develop and implement a written hazard communication program for chemicals that could cause serious burns;

• allowing employees to use scaffolding that was assembled with parts from different manufacturers; and

• allowing employees to work from a poorly constructed and unstable scaffolding system.

A serious violation occurs 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.

“The size of these penalties demonstrates the gravity and recurring nature of these hazards, any one of which could have resulted in death or disabling injuries for these workers,” said Andre C. Richards, director of OSHA’s Atlanta-West Area Office.

“In the last two years, this employer has been cited for similar hazards and that is totally unacceptable,” Richards said. “It’s time for this employer to make safety and health a priority at all of its job sites before someone is killed.”

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with Richards or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Information about fall hazards and safeguards is available here.


Tagged categories: Citations; Contractors; Enforcement; Health and safety; OSHA; Stucco; Violations

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (11/16/2011, 8:26 AM)

Rudy needs to start taking safety seriously.

Comment from Dennis Guy, (11/16/2011, 11:16 AM)

Don't know what to say... Rudy shame on you... and as for OSHA, why are your fines so steep as to ruin a guys business? Just asking...

Comment from Alan Lueders, (11/16/2011, 6:34 PM)

This is the difference between a good plaster who cares about his emplyees and one that does not. There is not that big cost associated with doing it right in the plastering business. It's not like he wasn't warned. OSHA will work with you if you act like you care. Obviuosly he didn't or the fine would not be so big. It time for them to go and make room the good guys.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (11/17/2011, 8:23 AM)

Dennis - interestingly, OSHA fines stay the same whether someone dies or not. If you notice, the vast majority of the fines are for repeat offenses. He was already warned (and fined) by OSHA for the same thing in the past. Only $8k is for the "first offense" stuff. When an article is based on OSHA fines after a fatality, the question is usually "Why aren't the fines higher?" I have to wonder - if a guy who has already been fined and warned in the past continues to put his workers at risk of death by renting substandard scaffolding and not training his workers in working safely at heights, should he really be in that line of work? 645 workers died from fatal falls last year - many, many more had serious injuries.

Comment from M. Halliwelll, (11/22/2011, 10:43 AM)

Of course, the other question that should be asked is: when are the regulators going to look at the scaffolding company? If the company will not erect a safe scaffold, someone needs to be held accountable and lose their tickets (granted, it could be different there...but here, scaffolding has to be inspected and certified before anyone can use it.)

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