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OSHA Cites 4 Contractors in 3 Deaths

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is proposing penalties against four contractors in the wake of a summer scaffolding accident that killed three workers in Texas.

The companies have 15 days from receipt of the citations to comply with, or appeal,  the actions.

"The supported scaffold from which employees were working collapsed, causing workers to fall more than 100 feet to their death," said Eric Harbin, OSHA's area director in Austin, Texas. "If scaffolding parts had been inspected and replaced or repaired as needed, it is possible that this tragic accident and loss of life could have been avoided."

OSHA's Austin Area Office began its investigation June 10 at the 21 Rio construction project on Rio Grande Street in Austin, after the death of three workers employed by Capoera Construction LLC, of Margate, Fla.

Capoera Construction was cited with three serious violations, including failing to develop and implement a safety and health program and failing to provide a competent person to inspect the scaffold before use. The company was also cited with two repeat violations for allegedly failing to provide adequate fall protection systems and allegedly failing to adequately train workers to recognize scaffolding hazards. Proposed penalties total $36,400.

Also cited was Mast Climber Manufacturing Inc., doing business as American Mast Climbers, the owner and installer of the scaffolding system. In a willful citation, OSHA accuses the company of not having scaffolds designed by a qualified person and constructing and loading the scaffold in accordance with that design. OSHA also cited the company with eight serious violations, including failing to provide scaffolding capable of supporting four times the maximum intended load, failing to have a competent person inspect the scaffolding and its components, and failing to repair or remove damaged scaffold parts. Proposed penalties total $86,800.

Andres Construction Services LLC, the general contractor, and Greater Metroplex Interiors Inc., the prime contractor for the building exterior, each were cited with four serious violations. They are accused of failing to have scaffolding and its components inspected by a competent person, failing to provide adequate fall protection systems on scaffolds, and failing to train employees on the use of scaffolding systems. Proposed penalties total $14,000 for Andres Construction Services and $22,400 for Greater Metroplex Interiors.

A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health. A serious violation is one that could cause death or physical harm that can result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists and a repeat violation is issued when an employer previously was cited for the same or similar hazard within the last three years.

The companies have 15 business days from receipt of citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Austin area director, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

   

Tagged categories: Health and safety; OSHA; OSHA; Workers

Comment from Joseph Kearns, (12/16/2009, 7:18 PM)

As with all tragedies resulting in death, no monitary penalty compensates for loss of life. However sharing the circumstances revealed in the investigatory process, educates us all to better evaluate our safety procedures on platforms scaffolding, and other potential venues where fall prevention / protection measures must be implemented. Heart felt condolences to the families who lost loved ones; may the preventative measures taken as a result this occurance bring some comfort, knowing that your loss has resulted in a greater measure of safety for others. Sincerely - Joseph Kearns


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