Region 1 News Release: BOS 2000-134
Monday, September 25, 2000
Contact: John Chavez
PHONE: (617) 565-2075
OSHA PROPOSES OVER $96,000 IN FINES AGAINST 3 CONTRACTORS IN CONNECTION WITH MARCH 23RD SCAFFOLD COLLAPSE AT PROVIDENCE PLACE MALL
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has completed its investigation of a March 23rd scaffold collapse which occurred during the construction of the IMAX Theater in the Providence Place Mall in Providence, Rhode Island,
and has cited three contractors for alleged violations of the Occupational Safety and Health
Act and proposed combined penalties against them totaling $96,400.
Cited were: ZVI Construction Company, Inc., of Boston, Mass., the general contractor for the construction of the theater, which had overall responsibility for worker safety; H. Carr & Sons, Inc., of Providence, RI, a subcontractor whose employees were working on the scaffolding, installing sheet rock; and Brand Scaffold Rental and Erection, of Wilmington, Mass., the contractor which erected the scaffold.
According to Kipp W. Hartmann, OSHA area director for Rhode Island, the alleged violations chiefly concern the contractors' failure to ensure that the scaffold was properly erected and maintained:
"OSHA's inspection found that the scaffold was improperly erected in that the trusses supporting the spans were not locked in, lateral bracing for the trusses was never installed, numerous cross braces were missing, and the cribbing used to support some of the legs was not stable," he said. "It was also overloaded well beyond the limits that would have been allowed even had it been erected properly. And finally, inspections of the scaffold by a competent person, that is, someone with the knowledge and authority to spot and correct hazards such as overloading, were inadequate. The inspections, which were not being done daily, ceased entirely the week before the scaffold collapsed.
In addition to violations related to the collapse, Hartmann noted that other sections of the scaffold lacked guardrails or equivalent forms of fall protection, exposing workers to falls of up to sixty feet to the floor and employees were not adequately trained to recognize and avoid scaffold hazards.
"The fact that no one died in this accident was purely the result of great good fortune," he said. "Luck, however, is not a reliable safeguard. Workers ought to be able to rely on employers to take the basic, commonsense steps to insure that scaffolds are properly erected and that they are not overloaded."
Specifically, the citations and proposed penalties encompass:
H. Carr & Sons, a sheet rock contractor located at 100 Royal Little Drive in Providence, RI, faces a total of $62,500 in fines for:
Three alleged Repeat violations, with $60,000 in proposed penalties, for: loading a scaffold in excess of its rated capacity; failure to have a competent person inspect scaffolds for defects before each shift; and failure to provide fall protection at
unguarded levels of the scaffold and at unguarded openings.
[This employer had previously been cited for substantially similar violations in September 1999 following OSHA inspections at worksites in Hingham, Mass., and Providence, RI].
One alleged Serious violation, with a proposed penalty of $2,500, for: failure to situate scaffold legs on base plates.
One alleged Other than Serious violation, with no cash penalty, for failing to adequately train employees in scaffold hazards and applicable regulations.
ZVI Construction Co., Inc., the project's general contractor, headquartered at 930 Commonwealth Ave. in Boston, Mass., faces $14,400 in fines for:
Four alleged Serious violations for: loading a scaffold in excess of its rated capacity; the scaffold was not capable of supporting four times its maximum intended load; the scaffold was not inspected for defects by a competent person prior to each work shift, and had damaged planks, was improperly braced due to missing or unsecured braces, and unstable cribbing was used to support some of its legs; and failure to provide fall protection at unguarded levels of the scaffold and at unguarded openings.
Brand Scaffold Rental & Erection, located at 17 Old Ballardville Street in Wilmington, Mass., the contractor which erected the scaffold, faces $19,500 in fines for:
Hartmann urged Ocean State employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area office in Providence at 401-528-4669 and added 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 serious violation is defined by OSHA as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
An other-than-serious violation is a condition which would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.
A repeat citation is issued when an employer has previously been cited for a violation of an OSHA standard or its equivalent and that citation has become final.
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.
Each company has 15 working 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.
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.