OSHA Fines Utica, N.Y., Contractor $111,000 for Scaffold, Fall Hazards

OSHA cited Precision Plaster Paint & Contracting LLC, a Utica, N.Y., contractor, for alleged willful, repeat and serious violations of safety standards at a Utica worksite. Precision faces a total of $111,000 in proposed fines, chiefly for an improperly erected and maintained scaffold and lack of fall protection for employees.

"Failing to provide adequate fall protection and improper maintenance of scaffolding heightens the danger to employees of suffering a potentially fatal fall," said Christopher Adams, OSHA's area director in Syracuse. "The sizable fines proposed here reflect employer knowledge, the gravity of the hazards and the recurrence of hazards cited in past OSHA inspections."

OSHA found employees exposed to 20 to 27 foot falls while working on a scaffold that was not fully planked, had no ladder to provide safe access and lacked fall protection safeguards. These conditions resulted in the issuance of three willful citations, accounting for $84,000 of the proposed fines. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

Four repeat citations, with $18,000 in proposed fines, were issued for hazards similar to those cited during 2006 and 2007 OSHA inspections of Precision jobsites in Cheektowaga and New Hartford, N.Y. These latest citations encompass lack of hard hat protection, a too-narrow scaffold platform and a lack of bracing, level footing and mudsills for the scaffold.

Finally, five serious citations, with $9,000 in proposed fines, were issued for split and rotted scaffold planks, an unsecured scaffold, improperly placed scaffold planks, lack of toe boards and no fall protection for employees working on a retaining wall. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

"One means of preventing future hazards is to establish and maintain an effective safety and health management system through which employers and employees work together to continually identify and eliminate worksite hazards," said Adams.

Precision Plaster Paint & Contracting has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to meet with OSHA or to contest the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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