Region 1 News Release: BOS 99-090
Monday, May 17, 1999
Contact: John M. Chavez
PHONE : (617) 565-2075
TEWKSBURY, MASS., EMPLOYER CITED BY OSHA FOR ALLEGED SCAFFOLDING SAFETY VIOLATIONS AT CAMBRIDGE, MASS., WORKSITE; $157,600 IN PENALTIES PROPOSED
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor has cited New England Brickmaster Windows and Exteriors, Inc., of Tewksbury, Massachusetts, for alleged WILLFUL, REPEAT and SERIOUS scaffolding safety violations at a jobsite in Cambridge, Mass., and has proposed penalties totaling $157,600 for those alleged violations.
According to K. Frank Gravitt, OSHA area director for Northeastern Massachusetts, the alleged violations were discovered during an inspection of a jobsite located at 45 Erie Street in Cambridge on November 16, 1998. "Unfortunately," said Gravitt, "what our inspectors found there was a litany of problems quite familiar to this company. This firm and its predecessor companies have a long history of similar safety violations, all having to do with unsafe scaffolds."
Gravitt noted that New England Brickmaster Windows and Exteriors, Inc., has been inspected three times previously by OSHA. In addition, the company is the offspring of two now defunct companies with significant OSHA inspection history. Garden State Brickface and Stucco from Roselle, New Jersey, was a sister company to New England Brickmaster, Inc. from Tewksbury, MA. Garden State Brickface and Stucco was inspected by OSHA 47 times between 1976 and 1991 and inspections resulted in 74 serious, 11 willful, and 13 repeat violations of the scaffold standards. New England Brickmaster, Inc. was inspected by OSHA 4 times, with 6 serious and 2 repeat violations of the scaffold standards.
Both of these companies were dissolved in March of 1992 and their assets were sold in an involuntary auction. New England Brickmaster, Windows and Exteriors, Inc. immediately re-opened with the employees and management from New England Brickmaster, Inc.
"Considering the history of this company and its predecessors," said Gravitt, "there is absolutely no excuse for the violations we found during this most recent inspection. Quite simply, this is an unfortunate example of an employer with absolutely no regard for the requirements of federal law, much less the safety of its employees."
Gravitt stated that New England Brickmaster is being charged with the following alleged scaffolding safety violations:
- Four alleged WILLFUL violations, carrying total proposed penalties of $140,000, for: failing to ensure that a wooden single pole scaffold system was erected in accordance with the design; failing to ensure that a guardrail system was installed along all open sides and ends of platforms on a wooden single pole scaffold system; failing to ensure that the single pole scaffold system was braced diagonally in both directions across the entire outside face; and, failing to provide stairways or ladders at all personnel points of access/egress on the single pole scaffold system.
- One alleged REPEAT violation, including a proposed penalty of $10,000, for failing to ensure that damaged or weakened parts of a single pole scaffold system were removed from service.
- Five alleged SERIOUS violations, with proposed penalties totaling $7,600, for: allowing an employee to wear sneakers rather than leather work boots on the job site; allowing an air hose to be secured to a pneumatic powered nail gun with adjustable hose clamps instead of a positive means to prevent the tool from being disconnected; failing to ensure that the upright poles on the single pole scaffold system were placed on footings that were level, sound, rigid, and capable of supporting the load; failing to ensure that the scaffold system was inspected by a competent person prior to each work shift; and, failing to ensure that employees working on the scaffold system were properly trained.
Gravitt noted that OSHA recently launched a special emphasis program aimed at reducing fatal fall hazards in New England through a combination of targeted enforcement and education activity designed to help employers and workers identify and eliminate fall hazards both in construction, where falls are the leading cause of death, and in general industry, where fall hazards may not be as obvious. The program's four major components combine outreach efforts, compliance assistance, an increased emphasis on identifying and addressing fall hazards during general industry inspections and targeted inspections of workplaces where fall hazards are observed.
He urged Bay State employers and employees with questions regarding fall protection or any other OSHA workplace safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area offices in Braintree (617-565-6924), Methuen (617-565-8110) or Springfield (413-785-0123) for information and assistance.
Separately, he reminded employers and workers that OSHA's toll-free, nationwide hotline --1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742)-- may be used to report workplace accidents or fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially if they occur outside of normal business hours.
A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.
A repeat violation is defined by OSHA as one where, upon reinspection, a substantially similar violation is found.
A serious violation is defined as one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
OSHA is empowered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to issue standards and rules requiring employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces and jobsites, and to assure through workplace inspections that those standards are followed.
The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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The information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (617) 565-2072. TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) Message Referral Phone: 800-347-8029.