Crushing and Fall Hazards at Demolition Site Lead to $258,300 in Fines

June 24, 2003
A Pawtucket, R.I., demolition contractor's failure to safeguard its workers against falling debris and falls of up to eight stories from a partially demolished building at a Lawrence, Mass., jobsite has resulted in $258,300 in proposed OSHA fines.

Ogden International Inc. was cited for alleged willful, repeat and serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act following an inspection at the Everett Mills Demolition Project in Lawrence. OSHA began its inspection on Dec. 18, 2002, after learning of fall hazards and other unsafe working conditions at the worksite.

"Demolition work is clearly hazardous and the safeguards required to protect workers are well-known," said U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao. "The Labor Department will not hesitate to use our maximum enforcement powers when employers willfully refuse to supply and ensure these basic protections."

OSHA's inspection found numerous life-threatening hazards, including employees working without fall protection at the edge of seventh and eighth floors of the partially demolished structure and workers exposed to falling debris while working directly beneath floors as they were being ripped out by a crane and while working beneath a wrecking ball as it razed the structure. The workers were not trained in fall hazards and the use of fall protection equipment nor in how to recognize and protect themselves from hazards inherent in building demolition.

Wall openings were not protected to prevent falls, rigging equipment was not inspected and labeled with its lifting capacity, employees were working without protective equipment and within the swing radius of a crane and a wrecking ball was not correctly attached to its rigging. Finally, the contractor did not conduct a pre-demolition survey to determine how to safely demolish the building and did not conduct ongoing inspections to gauge the building's structural integrity during the demolition (A breakdown of the citations and fines is attached.).

"This worksite could easily have become a graveyard, given this employer's failure to comply with basic, common sense safety requirements," said Richard Fazzio, OSHA's area director for northeastern Massachusetts. "Such blatant disregard for worker safety and health is unacceptable."

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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