OSHA began the inspection Sept. 11 as part of the agency's efforts to prevent falls, a leading cause of worker injury and death at construction sites. In the Southeast region between Oct. 1, 2002, and Sept. 30, 2003, OSHA investigated 55 fatal falls, of which six involved falls from scaffolds.
"Workers can be protected from fall hazards if preventative steps are taken. A regional program implemented last year to reduce these type of accidents has resulted in 22 fewer fatal falls than the preceding 12-month period," said Ken Atha, OSHA's Mobile, Ala., area director. "OSHA's efforts include a strong enforcement effort and a separate outreach component that teaches employers and workers how to recognize and eliminate fall hazards."
OSHA issued four repeat and two serious citations with proposed penalties totaling $45,675, to the Hudson Co., the general contractor on the project, for allowing the subcontractor's employees to work from a scaffold that was erected without a firm foundation and proper cross bracing and for failing to assure that workers were provided with access ladders, guardrails and properly planked work decks.
The agency issues a repeat citation when an employer has been cited previously for a substantially similar condition and the citation has become a final order of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
The subcontractor, P & P Stucco, received seven serious citations with proposed penalties of $9,450 for exposing workers to similar fall hazards. This was the first OSHA inspection for the Alpharetta, Ga.-based company.
Both the Hudson Company and P & P Stucco have 15 working days to contest the OSHA citations and proposed penalties before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Board, ask for an informal hearing with the area OSHA director or pay the fine.