Scaffolding Hazards at Texas Worksite Bring Fines

June 9, 2005

A Pearland, Texas-based masonry company’s reported failure to protect workers from scaffolding and fall hazards has resulted in citations from the U. S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The agency proposed penalties totaling $190,800.

Citations against Roeber Masonry Inc., which employs about 106 workers, alleged nine repeat, one other-than-serious and six serious violations following an inspection by OSHA’s Houston South area office. The inspection, which began Dec. 4 at the company’s worksite on S. Kirkwood in Stafford, Texas, was conducted as part of OSHA’s Falls in Construction regional emphasis program.

“OSHA standards for scaffold safety are specifically designed to protect workers from falls,” said Chuck Williams, OSHA’s area director in Houston. “Roeber Masonry has been repeatedly cited for fall hazards but continues to expose employees to hazardous conditions. This is not acceptable.”

The alleged repeat violations included failure to: provide adequate guardrails and toe boards; ensure that working platforms are fully planked; implement a written respiratory protection program for employees who cut brick; provide hazard communication training in the event of an emergency, and ensure the use of personal protective equipment such as safety glasses, face shields, gloves and hard hats. OSHA issues a repeat citation for the violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order where, upon re-inspection, a substantially similar violation is found.

OSHA has conducted six previous inspections of Roeber Masonry at worksites in Webster, League City, Sugar Land, Pasadena, Katy, and Houston, Texas. These inspections involved similar citations, the most of recent of which occurred in March 2004 resulting in proposed penalties totaling $344,800.

Among the alleged serious violations were failure to: provide material safety data sheets at each worksite, provide covers for outlet boxes, replace frayed electrical cords and provide strain relief for flexible cords. A serious violation is one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

An other-than-serious violation is a hazardous condition that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm, but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and or health of the employees. The company was cited for an other-than-serious violation for failing to provide OSHA logs within four business hours of request.

Roeber Masonry has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA Houston South area director, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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