OSHA Sticks Plastering Firm with $99,000 in Fines for Fall Hazards

OSHA's El Paso Area Office initiated this inspection on Oct. 19, 2010, when employees were observed working on a scaffold without the use of fall protection equipment at a worksite.

OSHA has issued five repeat citations to Best Plastering Contractors in El Paso, Texas, for exposing workers to fall hazards. Proposed penalties total $99,000.

"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."

OSHA's El Paso Area Office initiated this inspection on Oct. 19, 2010, when employees were observed working on a scaffold without the use of fall protection equipment at a worksite. Best Plastering employs about 18 workers at its El Paso facility and eight of them were at this worksite.

Violations include failing 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. A repeat citation 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.

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.

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 six feet or more above the next lower level. Detailed information on fall protection hazards and safeguards is available online at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/fallprotection/index.html. Detailed information on scaffold hazards and safe work practices, including an interactive e-Tool, is available online at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/scaffolding/index.html.

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