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OSHA alleges breach of safety standards after scaffold accident

In California and across the United States, falls are a leading cause of death in construction work. In April 2015, at a Massachusetts work site, three roofers fell two stories, requiring hospital treatment for broken bones, spinal injuries and a punctured lung. According to inspectors, the fall was the result of using a wooden plank that could not support the workers' weight. The invoice for the plank was marked "not for scaffold use."

An OSHA investigation revealed violations of several OSHA standards in addition to the undersized scaffolding plank. These included scaffold platforms that were too high, ladders that were not long enough to provide stability and failing to ensure that workers were using fall protection. As a result, the company was cited for willful, repeat and serious violations and was assessed a fine of $294,500.

The willful and repeat violations were imposed due to the company's knowledge and prior history of OSHA violations. The general contractor and the roofing contractor had rung up a total of $123,720 in fines based on 47 violations in the four years prior to the Massachusetts work site accident. Many of the violations involving the same violations found at the Massachusetts work site.

Some on-the-job incidents are unavoidable accidents. Others result from employers failing to adhere to OSHA standards. An employee who is injured on the job may consider seeking the advice of an attorney who may help the employee bring a workers' compensation claim against the employer. If an employee files a complaint with OSHA regarding a hazardous working condition, the law protects that employee from retaliation by the employer. If retaliation occurs, a lawyer may be able to assist in negotiating a settlement with the employer or filing a lawsuit seeking monetary damages.

Source: EHS Today, "Not for Scaffold Use: Three Massachusetts Roofers Hospitalized When Scaffolding Breaks," Sandy Smith, April 9, 2015

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