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Friday, January 4, 2013

Repeated Fall Injuries Results in OSHA Fines of $58,000 to NJ Employer

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Beno Stucco Systems of Rochelle Park with six safety violations – including five repeat – involving fall and scaffolding hazards while employees were applying stucco to a commercial building in Westwood, N.J.

OSHA's June investigation was initiated as a result of an imminent danger fall hazard. Proposed penalties total $61,600.

The repeat violations, with $58,520 as the proposed penalty, were cited for exposing workers to fall and scaffolding hazards, and for failing to provide workers with protective helmets to prevent injuries from falling objects. A repeat violation is 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. Similar violations were cited in 2007, 2009 and 2011.

One serious violation, with a $3,080 proposed penalty, was cited for failing to have a competent person inspect scaffolds and scaffold components for visible defects before each work shift and after any occurrence that could affect a scaffold's structural integrity. Additionally, the company did not conduct an inspection of the job site, materials and scaffold components, to prevent employees from working without full planking, fall protection and scaffold access. A serious citation is issued 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.

"This company repeatedly neglected to implement basic, common-sense and legally-required safeguards to ensure that scaffolds were erected properly and fall protection was provided for employees working at heights of 10 feet or more," said Lisa Levy, director of OSHA's area office in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J. "OSHA will not tolerate employers jeopardizing the safety and health of workers."

OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are working with trade associations, labor unions, employers, universities, community and faith-based organizations and consulates to provide employers and workers–especially vulnerable, low-literacy workers–with education and training on common-sense fall prevention equipment and strategies that save lives. OSHA has also created a new fall prevention Web page at http://www.osha.gov/stopfalls that includes detailed information in English and Spanish on fall protection standards.

Beno Stucco Systems 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.