Willful Fall Hazards, Other Violations Lead to Contractor's $106,200 Fine

OSHA is proposing $106,200 in penalties against El Paso, Texas-based Best Plastering Contractors for allegedly exposing employees to potential fall hazards. The agency issued the citations alleging four willful and three serious violations following an investigation that began July 11, 2008, when OSHA inspectors witnessed employees working on a scaffold without using fall protection equipment at a worksite in El Paso.

"The fines reflect the company's failure to follow OSHA requirements and their indifference toward providing their employees with a safe workplace environment," said Dean McDaniel, OSHA's regional administrator in Dallas. "It is fortunate that no one was seriously injured."

The willful citations are for failing to fully plank working levels of the scaffold; to set up the scaffold on adequate foundation; to supply workers with a ladder or other safe access to the scaffold working levels; and to provide guardrails for employees working on upper levels of the scaffold. The agency considers a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

Serious violations included failing to provide training for employees who used portland cement, a chemical that can cause skin burns; to properly brace the scaffold; and to repair or replace damaged scaffold components. A serious violation exists when there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Lubbock, Texas, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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