Makeshift Scaffold, Other Dangers Add up to $54K Fine for Contractor

OSHA has cited Star Service Corp. of East Boston, Mass., for 25 alleged violations of workplace safety standards. The construction contractor faces a total of $54,250 in fines after OSHA inspectors twice found workers exposed to falls while repointing brick on a building located at the intersection of Meridian and Saratoga Streets in East Boston.

"The recurring nature of several of these hazards is of great concern," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts. "There's no excuse for workers being repeatedly and needlessly exposed to potentially fatal or disabling falls. This employer must take prompt, effective and ongoing action to eliminate these hazards now and in the future."

On Aug, 21, 2009, OSHA found workers exposed to 26-foot falls from a makeshift work platform comprised of a fiberglass extension ladder laid horizontally atop a pump jack scaffold. On Sept 9, 2009, an OSHA inspection at the same jobsite found workers exposed to 24-foot falls from similar hazards including a work platform consisting of half an aluminum extension ladder with two dressed pieces of lumber on top of the ladder.

Additional hazards identified during the two inspections included improperly installed lifelines; unbraced scaffolding; fall hazards associated with an unguarded roof edge and walkway; inadequately or improperly used ladders; lack of fall protection; lack of scaffold hazard training; the absence of a competent person to inspect for, identify, and correct hazardous conditions; lack of head protection; an unguarded saw blade; and electrical hazards.

All told, Star Service has been issued 24 serious citations, with $52,750 in fines, for these conditions and one other-than-serious citation, with a $1,500 fine, for incomplete illness and injury recording. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, participate in an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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