OSHA Cites Pair of Contractors Following Conn. Accident

October 17, 2005

Two New Haven County, Connecticut contractors face a total of $27,100 in fines from the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) following a Sept. 8 scaffold collapse in Fairfield, Conn.

Employees of New Haven Scaffolding and Petra Construction were working on a scaffold and on the roof of the Pequot Library when the scaffold tipped over, causing one worker to fall 17 feet to the ground. Petra Construction, based in North Haven, was the general contractor while New Haven Scaffolding was the scaffolding subcontractor.

“This case highlights why it is vital for worker safety that scaffolds are erected properly, employees are trained adequately and fall protection is ensured,” said Robert Kowalski, OSHA’s area director in Bridgeport. “It’s fortunate no one was killed in this incident, but safety must never be just a matter of luck.”

OSHA’s inspection reportedly found that the scaffold was unsecured and unbraced; not fully planked; lacked a safe means of access, and was not erected under the supervision of a competent person. In addition, employees did not have fall protection and were not trained to recognize and address hazards associated with work on scaffolds. Also, the extension ladder used to access the roof was set on an uneven surface, unsecured and of inadequate length.

As a result of these conditions, Petra Construction was issued six serious citations and fined $16,100 while New Haven Scaffolding was issued eight serious citations with $11,000 in fines. Both employers were cited for the scaffold, fall, access and ladder hazards; New Haven Scaffolding was also cited for the lack of employee training and improper erection of the scaffold.

OSHA defines a serious violation as a condition where there is a substantial possibility that death or serious physical harm can result to an employee from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

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