New England’s self-described “premier scaffolding rental and erection company” has admitted to a serious federal violation in the collapse of scaffolding that sent a construction worker plunging more than two stories.
The agreement was Boston Ladder & Scaffolding Company’s third settlement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in five months. The company is based in Manchester, NH.
The accident Nov. 30 took place at the Martingale Wharf in Portsmouth, NH. The historic building is at the center of a years-long redevelopment project. The site is located in the heart of downtown Portsmouth’s busy waterfront retail and restaurant corridor.
In the accident, a bricklayer fell from one level of scaffolding through a second one, then fell two stories onto a set of stairs, as bricks, scaffolding and a pan of mortar rained down on him. It took rescuers about 15 minutes to free the 37-year-old trapped worker, who was not identified.
The worker was treated at an area hospital and released the same day, having suffered no broken bones or permanent injuries, authorities said.
According to the citation, the scaffold failed to support its load. OSHA requires that each scaffold component be capable of supporting its own weight and at least four times the maximum intended load applied or transmitted to it. The company was fined $4,900, which was reduced after an informal settlement to $2,450.
Boston Ladder & Scaffolding also agreed to post notice of the OSHA finding and penalty near the accident site for three days or until the violation was remedied.
1 Settlement, 2 Cases
Concurrent with the Portsmouth settlement came closure of another, unrelated case by OSHA against the scaffolding company. That incident stemmed from violations discovered Aug. 4 on a job site in Manchester, NH, after an inspection triggered by a referral, OSHA said.
In settling the Manchester case, OSHA agreed to a fine of $6,300—half the original penalty—for three serious violations. Those violations include the use of scaffolding that did not support sufficient weight, failure to have a competent person supervise assembly of the scaffold, and lack of training and fall protection for employees working at heights up to 140 feet to build the scaffold.
At the time of the Manchester inspection, Boston Ladder was already facing a prior OSHA case that was opened July 1. In that case, which was also triggered by a complaint, the company was originally cited for four serious head protection and scaffolding violations and fined $10,000 for conditions at a job site in Allston, MA. The case was reduced to two violations and a $5,000 fine and closed Aug. 26 after an informal settlement.
Boston Ladder and Scaffolding did not respond to a request for comment Thursday (March 3).
The company was established in the 1930s as Boston’s first scaffolding and ladder distributor.
Today, the company is owned by Lynn Ladder and Scaffolding Inc. (aka LYN-LAD GROUP LTD.) and is a major regional supplier of scaffold systems, mobile platforms, fall protection equipment and related services.
Falls are the most frequent cause of fatalities at construction sites and account for about one in three construction-related deaths annually. In 2008, 700 American workers died in workplace falls.