The company, BC Stucco and Stone, had workers on scaffolding 18 feet in the air without proper planking or decking. The scaffolding also lacked guardrails and safe access as well as exit ways. The employees were also found to have no proper training when it came to working on a scaffold. These are all incredibly high-risk dangers that could have cost any worker his or her life at the hand of a negligent employer.
To prevent employees from being injured from falls, OSHA demands that employers must:
- Guard every floor hole into which a worker can accidentally walk with a railing and toe-board or a floor hole cover.
- Provide a guard rail and toe-board around every elevated open sided platform, floor or runway.
- Regardless of height, if a worker can fall into or onto dangerous machines or equipment employers must provide guardrails and toe-boards to prevent workers from falling and getting injured.
- Certain jobs may require additional equipment, including safety harness and line, safety nets, stair railings and hand rails.
Regulations to prevent falling accidents are very strictly enforced by OSHA for reasons including the frequency of falling accidents and number of fatalities due to falls. In 2014, falls were the cause of 359 out of 899 total deaths in construction accidents, which is 39.9% of all construction deaths for that year. Citations for lack of fall prevention safety equipment were also the most frequently cited standards by Federal OSHA in fiscal year 2015.
Despite OSHA’s strict enforcement and steep fines, this hasn’t been the first time BC Stucco & Stone and Penn Stucco Systems have been cited for these types of insufficiencies. Penn Stucco was given similar citations in 2012, 2013, 2014 and earlier in 2016, while BC Stucco & Stone was cited in 2013, 2014 and earlier in 2016. Both companies were cited earlier in the year for the very same violations while working a site in Philadelphia. The fines were in excess of $236,000, which doesn’t include the most recent fines of $93,000.
In a press release by the director of OSHA’s office in Wilmington, DE, Erin Patterson said, “BC Stucco and Stone continues to make production the priority over ensuring a safe workplace for its employees, which is intolerable. This contractor is well aware of OSHA standards for safe scaffolding, but consistently disregards them and allows its workers to use scaffolding in such poor condition that even a small human error could lead to dreadful outcomes.”