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Region 1 News Release: BOS 99-033
Tuesday, March 2, 1999
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald 617-565-2074

OSHA CITES SUFFOLK CONSTRUCTION COMPANY FOR ALLEGED REPEAT AND SERIOUS FALL PROTECTION HAZARDS FOLLOWING INSPECTION AT DOWNTOWN BOSTON WORKSITE

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Labor Department has cited Suffolk Construction Company, Incorporated, of Boston, Massachusetts, for alleged Repeat, Serious and Other than Serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act following an inspection at a Boston construction site and has proposed penalties totaling $53,700.

According to Brenda Gordon, OSHA area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts, the alleged violations were discovered during an inspection initiated November 25, 1998, after OSHA was informed of possible fall hazards at a construction site located at the Regal Bostonian Hotel on North Street in Boston. Suffolk Construction is the general contractor overseeing renovation of and construction of an addition to the hotel. In that role, Suffolk has overall responsibility for ensuring compliance with all applicable construction safety standards for the project.

"The inspection identified several instances of inadequate or non-existent fall protection on the second through seventh floors which left various subcontractor employees exposed to falls from locations as high as seventy feet above the ground," said Gordon, who noted that this is the third time in the past two years that OSHA has cited Suffolk under OSHA's fall protection standard.

"The workers on this project are extremely lucky that no falls occurred, but that good fortune in no way relieves an employer of the responsibility of ensuring that required safeguards are in place and in use," she said. "Safety is not a sometime endeavor to be followed at some worksites but not at others. It's a basic requirement that must be met, and met effectively, on each and every job."

Specifically, the citations and proposed penalties encompass the following:

  • Two alleged Repeat violations, with $35,200 in proposed penalties, for:

    -- failure to equip unprotected exterior wall openings on the second through seventh floors with guardrails to prevent falls of up to 70 feet; [The company had previously been cited by OSHA for substantially similar violations on November 7, 1997, following an inspection at a Randolph, Mass., worksite and on February 21, 1997, following an inspection at a Wayne, New Jersey, worksite];

    -- tripping hazards posed by uncovered floor holes [The company had previously been cited by OSHA for a substantially similar violation on March 30, 1998, following an inspection at a Danvers, Mass., worksite].

  • Seven alleged Serious violations, with $18,500 in proposed penalties, for:

    -- employees working on tubular welded scaffolds on the seventh and fourth floors were exposed to falls greater than 10 feet due to a lack of proper fall protection;

    -- midrails were not installed at exterior wall openings on the sixth floor;

    -- inadequate wire rope guardrails on the seventh and fourth floors;

    -- ladder access openings on the second through seventh floors were not equipped with all required guardrails;

    -- perimeter floor openings on the second through seventh floors lacked toeboards to prevent materials or tools from falling to lower levels where people were working;

    -- piles of materials, scrap lumber and metal studs were strewn throughout the seventh and fifth floor working areas creating tripping hazards near passageways and unguarded open floor edges;

    -- the company's designated competent person (one with both the knowledge to spot hazards and the authority to correct them) did not conduct frequent and regular safety inspections of the jobsite.

  • One alleged Other than Serious violation with no cash penalty proposed, for:

    -- masons and laborers accessed a scaffold platform by climbing onto it rather than by the use of ramps, ladders or stairs.

Gordon noted that Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that falls accounted for 39% of construction fatalities in the United States between 1992 and 1997 and that, in New England, 22 fatal falls -- 13 of them in construction -- occurred in 1998. She urged eastern Massachusetts employers and employees with questions regarding fall protection, construction or other OSHA workplace safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area offices in Braintree or Methuen 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 repeated violation is defined by OSHA as one where, upon reinspection, a substantially similar violation is found.

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, 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.

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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.


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.

OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents

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