On June 2, 2016, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) announced that Pennsylvania stucco contractor BC Stucco and Stone would be fined $93,000 for exposing employees to scaffolding dangers at a Bear, Delaware work site.
The company was doing a store remodeling job in Bear, Delaware. On November 25, 2015, during an OSHA inspection, the compliance officer saw employees working about 18 feet above ground on a scaffold with “major safety deficiencies, such as lack of fall protection, planking, safe access and proper use of guardrails,” which prompted an OSHA investigation.
As a result of the investigation, OSHA cited BC Stucco for one serious and three willful violations.
Scaffolds Inherently Dangerous to Workers
Scaffolding, or “staging” as it’s sometimes called, presents an ever-present danger to construction workers. A scaffold is a temporary structure made of metal or wood, used to support a work crew during the erection or repair of a building. If these structures are improperly stalled or defective, workers can fall and seriously injure themselves.
OSHA established regulations that companies, supervisors, and employees must follow concerning scaffolds. These include guidelines for how scaffolding should be designed and constructed, how often employers should inspect them, and when they should be repaired.
OSHA estimates that 2.3 million construction workers, or 65 percent of the industry, work on scaffolds. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) study, about 72 percent of workers injured in scaffold accidents blamed the accident either on the planking or support giving way, or the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object. These are things that, according to OSHA, can be controlled by complying with OSHA regulations.
BC Stucco and Stone Cited for Scaffold Violations in the Past
On the Delaware work cite, BC Stucco failed to follow a number of OSHA regulations, resulting in safety concerns. Among the problems:
- Scaffolds were not fully planked or decked
- Scaffolds didn’t have safe means of access and exit
- Scaffolds didn’t have guardrails
- Employees weren’t trained in scaffold safety
This isn’t the first time BC Stucco and Stone has been cited for violations. On May 2, 2016, OSHA fined the company $116,600 for mismanaged scaffolds; OSHA gave the company three willfull, two repeat, and two serious violations for failing to install guardrails and for maintaining 39-foot high scaffolds that were not fully planked or decked.
OSHA also noted that the company allowed employees to work on scaffolds without restraints to avoid tipping, and failed to provide ladders, stair towers, or other safe means of access.
In 2013 and 2014, BC Stucco was cited for similar violations.
In OSHA’s report concerning the most recent violations, OSHA stated: “BC Stucco and Stone continues to make production the priority over ensuring a safe workplace for its employees, which is intolerable.”
OSHA goes on to state that the company is well aware of safety standards for scaffolding, but nevertheless disregards them, allowing workers “to use scaffolding in such poor condition that even a small human error could lead to dreadful outcomes,” according to Erin Patterson, director of OSHA’s Wilmington Area Office.
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