Scaffold Breaks, Seriously Injuring Workers

05.04.2015
HR & Safety

Area company faces nearly $300,000 in OSHA fines

Three roofing workers employed by Provencher Home Improvement of Beverly, Massachusetts, were hospitalized after a two-story fall from a scaffold platform that broke beneath them according to OSHA inspectors. The incident occurred, inspectors said, because a spruce plank used as the platform could not support the workers’ weight, was not graded for scaffold use, and the plank’s invoice was clearly marked “not for scaffold use.”

OSHA found numerous violations in its inspection and has cited the company’s owner Daryl J. Provencher with fines totaling $294,500. The incident underscores the severity of fall hazards in the construction industry. Each year, hundreds die as a result of falls, many of which are preventable when proper safety rules are observed.

“Had this employer obeyed the law and followed OSHA standards, this incident and the resulting serious injuries to three workers would not have occurred. It was completely preventable,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “Instead of purchasing and using scaffold grade planking that could support the load, this employer needlessly gambled with the safety and well-being of its employees.”

The three workers who fell were taken to local hospitals for treatment. Two were admitted as inpatients and the third received outpatient treatment. Their injuries included spinal, eye, facial, chest and rib fractures, broken bones, broken ribs, and a punctured lung.

OSHA identified additional hazards at the jobsite, including scaffold platforms that exceeded the maximum allowable height of 20 feet, ladders that did not extend at least three feet above landings for stability, and not ensuring that the employees were using fall protection. Other hazards encompassed the use of defective or damaged scaffold components, missing or inadequate scaffold anchorage, and failure to train employees in scaffold erection and safety. These conditions resulted in the company being cited for three willful, one repeat, and five serious violations.

The willful and repeat violations stem from the company’s knowledge of the hazards and prior history of OSHA violations. It had been inspected repeatedly since 2005 resulting in a total of 47 violations and $123,720 in fines for the two entities. Three of the inspections involved scaffold violations, five involved ladder hazards, and three involved fall protection violations. The previous inspections took place at worksites in Danvers, Hamilton, Peabody, Revere Beach, and Salem.

Read the citations here.

If you would like more information about OSHA enforcement activity, plan to attend CBIA’s 2015 Safety & Health Conference, May 21 in Cromwell, where OSHA administrators will be on hand to answer your questions.

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