Region 1 News Release: BOS 2000-041
Thursday, March 23, 2000
Contact: John M. Chavez
Phone: (617) 565-2075
WATERTOWN, MASS., EMPLOYER CITED BY OSHA FOR FALL PROTECTION SAFETY HAZARDS AT NASHUA, N.H., WORKSITE; NEARLY $65,000 IN PENALTIES PROPOSED
Schernecker Property Services, Inc., based in Watertown, Massachusetts, has been cited by the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for alleged WILLFUL and SERIOUS violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act at a worksite in Nashua, New Hampshire. The federal safety agency has proposed penalties totaling $64,750 for the alleged violations.
According to David May, OSHA Area Director for New Hampshire, during October and November 1999, the company was involved in renovation work at a condominium apartment complex located at 32 Bluestone Drive, Nashua, New Hampshire. On the morning of October 29, he noted, an employee of the company was injured in a fall. A referral was made to OSHA and the agency, in turn, responded and began an on-site inspection.
"What our investigator found," said May, "were employees of Schernecker Property Services working up on scaffolds and on the roof of a building without using any sort of fall protection, which is required by OSHA safety standards. And even though those requirements were fully explained to company officials, a return visit to the site a few weeks later revealed the same unsafe work practices were being used."
Therefore, May stressed, the company is being cited for an alleged willful violation of OSHA safety standards, which is the most severe category of violation. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.
Specifically, the company is being cited for the following:
One alleged WILLFUL violation carrying a proposed penalty of $56,000 for allowing employees to work on ladderjack scaffolds on two different dates and on three different buildings without the benefit of any kind of fall protection system or equipment.
Five alleged SERIOUS violations, including proposed penalties totaling $8,750, for allowing employees to work above and below other employees without head protection (hardhats); allowing two ladderjack platforms to be bridged one to another; failing to provide proper training to employees and foremen required to work with and on scaffolds; failing to provide fall protection for employees working on the roof of a building; and unsafe use of a ladder to access the roof of a building.
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.
"One worker was hurt and several other employees were put at risk on this jobsite because of the hazardous conditions allowed to exist there," said May. "Employers must be aware of the hazards faced by their employees on the jobs they require them to do; and they especially must be aware that the law compels them to do everything they can to protect their workers from those hazards. Anything less is unacceptable."
May urged New Hampshire employers and employees with questions regarding safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area office in Concord. He added that OSHA's toll-free nationwide hotline -- 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742) -- may be used to report workplace accidents and fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially those situations which occur outside of normal business hours.
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.