OSHA issued five repeat citations to Best Plastering Contractors of El Paso, Texas, for exposing workers to fall hazards. Proposed penalties total $99,000.
OSHA's El Paso Area Office initiated an inspection on Oct. 19, when employees were observed working on a scaffold without the use of fall protection equipment at a worksite in El Paso. The company employs about 18 workers at its El Paso facility and eight of them were at the worksite, OSHA said.
OSHA said the company failed to provide:
• base plates and mud sills to prevent scaffolds from becoming unstable;
• a ladder for safe access to all working levels of the scaffold;
• training for employees who perform scaffolding work; and
• fall-protection systems such as guardrails and/or personal fall-arrest systems such as harnesses to employees working from a scaffold.
Repeat citations are issued when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule, or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. In 2009, the company was fined more than $106,000 and cited with four willful and three serious violations for exposing employees to the same safety hazards.
“Falls are one of the most common and well-known hazards at a construction site. This is not the first time this company has jeopardized the safety of its workers,” said Jack Rector, OSHA's area director in El Paso. “Falls can injure or kill a worker within seconds. It is fortunate in this case that there were no injuries or fatalities.”
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director in El Paso, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
OSHA standards require that an effective form of fall protection, such as guardrails, safety nets or personal fall-arrest systems, be in use when workers perform residential construction activities 6 feet or more above the next lower level. Detailed information on fall protection hazards and safeguards is available online at Fall Protection.
Detailed information on scaffold hazards and safe work practices, including an interactive e-Tool, is available online at Scaffolding Hazards.