OSHA enforcement activityA New York painting and stucco contractor with a long history of fall protection and scaffold safety violations has wracked up a new set of OSHA violations, with a $460,350 price tag.

The size of the fines reflect an “ongoing failure and refusal” by Ronkonkoma-based Painting & Decorating Inc. to provide basic safeguards for its employees, according to Anthony Ciuffo, the agency’s Long Island area director.

The inspection at one of the company’s work sites began on March 31 under OSHA’s local emphasis program aimed at preventing falls in the construction industry. The inspection identified numerous fall and scaffolding hazards, many of which were similar to those cited during previous OSHA inspections of five other Painting & Decorating work sites during the past several years.

Missing cross bracing, scaffolds at risk of tipping

The recurring hazards include not having the scaffold self-inspected for defects by a competent person during scaffold erection and before workers began to work on the scaffold. An inspection would have identified hazards such as missing cross bracing and planks; no safe means for workers to access the scaffold; lack of fall protection for the employees working on the scaffold; scaffold not restrained against tipping; lack of protective helmets; and no protection to prevent objects from falling onto workers from the scaffold.

These conditions resulted in the issuance of 10 repeat citations with $429,660 in fines. Between 2008 and 2010, OSHA cited the company for similar hazards at work sites in Kings Point, Great Neck and Forest Hills.

New hazards as well

OSHA's inspectors also identified new hazards, including a lack of fall protection for workers erecting the scaffolding; scaffold erected on unsound footing; workers climbing the scaffold's cross bracing during erection; and lack of eye protection. These hazards resulted in the issuance of five serious citations with $30,690 in fines.

Due to the nature and severity of violations, Painting & Decorating Inc. has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. OSHA's SVEP focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer's facilities if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations.

Fall prevention info available

OSHA has a fall prevention campaign that provides employers and workers with information and educational materials about working safely from ladders, scaffolds and roofs. It was developed in partnership with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and NIOSH's National Occupational Research Agenda program. More information on fall protection standards is available in English and Spanish at http://www.osha.gov/stopfalls.