Safety First! Scaffolding

Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited a construction company Concord, NH. for alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards following the death of an employee on Sept. 16 at a Middle School construction site. Erecting scaffolding and working under the direction of the contractor, contractor were erecting scaffolding when the plank upon which the victim was working snapped, resulting in a 27-foot fatal fall to the concrete floor below.

An inspection by OSHA’s Concord Area Office found that the scaffold had not been inspected for defects, the employees had not been adequately trained in the erection and inspection of scaffolding, and the employer did not determine the feasibility of or ensure the use of fall protection for employees during the scaffold erection. These conditions resulted in citations for three willful violations. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Additionally, the scaffold planks could not support four times their maximum allowable load as required, all of the scaffold’s supporting legs were not set on base plates, scaffold planks were covered with paint and the employees were not adequately supervised during the scaffold erection. These conditions resulted in citations for four serious violations. 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.

“Proper planning, inspection procedures, employee training and equipment could have prevented this incident and the worker’s death that resulted,” said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA’s New Hampshire area director. “I strongly suggest that employers who use scaffolding make the time and effort to review their equipment, work practices and employee training, and take any necessary corrective steps to prevent future falls that can result in injuries and deaths.”

Detailed information on scaffolding hazards and safeguards, including an interactive eTool, is available. Click here.

The MacMillin Co. Inc., which faces a total of $167,580 in proposed fines, has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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