Trip to the Mall Costs Contractor $126,000 (in Penalties)

A trip to the mall turned out to be very expensive for a Georgia contractor, after OSHA finds employees were exposed to serious fall hazards.

A trip to the mall turned out to be very expensive for a Georgia contractor.

Exposing employees to serious fall hazards during construction of the Statesboro Mall may cost Augusta, Ga.-based Rhodes Construction Co. $126,720 in proposed penalties, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The agency inspected the Statesboro Mall construction site on Sept. 19 after receiving an anonymous complaint about the condition of scaffolding erected by Rhodes, a sub-contractor on the job. The site was inspected a second time on Oct. 15 after Rhodes employees were observed working at the edge of a 24-foot-high roof without fall protection.

"Falls are a leading cause of death and serious injuries for construction workers," said Teresa Harrison, OSHA's Savannah area director. "This employer put workers at risk by choosing to disregard the general contractor's warnings, workers' concerns and its own safety manual."

Prior to the first OSHA inspection, the general contractor requested that Rhodes install missing planks and guardrails on an 18-foot-high, third-level scaffolding platform and provide workers with a ladder to access the area. The sub-contractor failed to comply.

During the Sept. 19 inspection, OSHA found that Rhodes employees continued to work from unsafe scaffolding. The agency issued three citations for willful violations of scaffolding standards and proposed penalties totaling $117,000.

OSHA's first inspection also resulted in two serious citations with proposed penalties of $3,000 for scaffolding that was not properly anchored to prevent it from tipping over and two repeat citations with proposed penalties of $2,520 for allowing employees to work on scaffolding without hardhats and for scaffolding without cross bracing.

The Oct. 15 inspection resulted in one serious citation with a $4,200 proposed penalty for allowing employees to work near a roof edge without fall protection.

Harrison pointed out that while OSHA's fall protection program has a strong enforcement component, it also provides compliance assistance, without fear of enforcement action, for employers who seek help in providing a safe work environment. For more information about compliance assistance, contact your area OSHA office.

edited by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

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