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Region 1 News Release: BOS 99-020
Monday, February 8, 1999
Contact: John M. Chavez, (617) 565-2075

OSHA CONCLUDES INVESTIGATION OF QUINCY, MASS., SCAFFOLDING COLLAPSE WHICH TOOK THE LIVES OF TWO YOUNG IRISH WORKERS; PROPOSES PENALTIES TOTALING OVER $313,000 FOR WILLFUL & SERIOUS SAFETY VIOLATIONS BY MASSACHUSETTS CONTRACTORS

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor has cited three Massachusetts contractors for alleged violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act in connection with last August's scaffolding collapse in Quincy, Mass., which took the lives of two young Irish workers.

According to Brenda Gordon, OSHA's Area Director in Braintree, Mass., OSHA is proposing penalties totaling $313,700 against Diversified Contracting, Inc., of Braintree, GW Construction Company of Brighton, and Metropolitan Scaffold Services, Inc., of Mendon. Diversified and GW are alleged to have committed WILLFUL violations of OSHA safety standards, the most severe of OSHA's violation categories.

"Our investigation concluded that the primary cause of the collapse was the overloading of the scaffold with brick, debris and excess scaffold planking," Gordon said. "Both Diversified and GW are experienced in using scaffolding for masonry work. The safe working load of the scaffold was clearly labeled on the scaffold frames by the manufacturer."

For these and other reasons, Gordon noted, Diversified and GW are being cited for alleged WILLFUL and SERIOUS violations as follows:

DIVERSIFIED CONTRACTING, INCORPORATED

  • Four alleged WILLFUL violations, including proposed penalties totaling $225,000 for: loading a tubular welded frame scaffold beyond its manufacturer's rated capacity ($63,000); directing the alteration of the scaffold, including the addition of outriggers and planking for additional full work platforms, by untrained and inexperienced employees who were not under the guidance of a competent person ($63,000); allowing brick and mortar from demolition work to accumulate on the scaffold platform ($36,000); and, failing to train employees working on the scaffold by a person qualified to recognize the hazards associated with the type of scaffold and how to minimize the hazards ($63,000).

  • One alleged SERIOUS violation, carrying a proposed penalty of $5,600, for failing to have a competent person inspect the tubular welded frame scaffold for visible defects prior to the work shift.

  • TOTAL PROPOSED PENALTIES: $230,600.

GW CONSTRUCTION

  • Four alleged WILLFUL violations, including proposed penalties totaling $75,000 for: loading a tubular welded frame scaffold beyond its manufacturer's rated capacity ($21,000); directing the alteration of the scaffold, including the addition of outriggers and planking for additional full work platforms, by untrained and inexperienced employees who were not under the guidance of a competent person ($21,000); allowing brick and mortar from demolition work to accumulate on the scaffold platform ($12,000); and, failing to train employees working on the scaffold by a person qualified to recognize the hazards associated with the type of scaffold and how to minimize the hazards ($21,000).

  • One alleged SERIOUS violation, carrying a proposed penalty of $2,100 for failing to have a competent person inspect the tubular welded frame scaffold for visible defects prior to the work shift.

  • TOTAL PROPOSED PENALTIES: $77,100.

Metropolitan Scaffold Services, Incorporated, the company responsible for the original erection of the scaffold, was also cited for two alleged SERIOUS violations, including $6,000 in proposed penalties, for: failing to ensure that the tubular welded frame scaffold was supported on level and sufficiently rigid footings to keep the structure from settling ($3,500), and erecting a tubular welded frame scaffold 19 frames high with cross bracing missing from a base section ($2,500).

"Our investigation into the cause of the accident which led to the tragic deaths of two inexperienced workers," said Gordon, "revealed that Diversified Contracting and GW Construction had sufficient knowledge and experience to have taken the necessary safety precautions which would have prevented this terrible accident, yet chose not to do so."

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 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.

Gordon urged Boston and Southeastern Massachusetts employers and employees with questions regarding safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area office in Braintree. She 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 companies have 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.


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.


Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.


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