OSHA’s inspection found NER employees exposed to falls of up to 17 feet due to a lack of fall protection while power washing the side of a building and while dismantling scaffolding. An additional fall hazard stemmed from the employer's failure to fully plank the scaffolding from which the employee performed the power washing.
“A fatal or disabling fall can end a life or a career in seconds,” said Brenda Gordon, OSHA’s area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts. “Scaffolding is an essential tool – and fall protection a basic and required safeguard – for this type of work. There's no reason for an employer's failure to have proper and effective protections in place and in use at all times at all jobsites.”
As a result of these conditions, OSHA has issued the company three willful citations with $210,000 in proposed fines. A willful violation exists when an employer has demonstrated either an intentional disregard for the requirements of the law or plain indifference to employee safety and health.
NER also has been issued six serious citations with $23,500 in fines for improper scaffold erection; missing guardrails; failure to certify that employees had been trained and evaluated to safely operate powered industrial trucks; lack of emergency eyewashing facilities; and failure to ensure the use of eye, face and head protection. Finally, NER has been issued two other-than-serious citations with $2,000 in fines for inadequate recordkeeping. OSHA issues a serious citation 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. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
Detailed information on hazards and safeguards for scaffolds and falls in construction is available to workers and employers at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/scaffolding/index.html and http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/fallprotection/construction.html.
NER Construction Management has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with the OSHA area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.