In our last post, we highlighted some of the basic, and necessary, steps that contractors must take to ensure workers’ safety when working on scaffolding. This is especially important given how often workers fall and the severity of the injuries that can be sustained. Further, the potential OSHA violations can form the legal basis for negligence suits in addition to workers’ compensation benefits.
On the heels of that post, the story of a Santa Barbara employer that has been fined for OSHA violations based on scaffolding issues is a prime example of what can happen when rules are not followed and working conditions are not safe.
Essentially, OSHA notified the contractor of several deficiencies regarding its scaffolding on a hotel renovation project. The worksite did not have a ladder for safe access, a guardrail to prevent falls, as well as required base plates to prevent the scaffolding from becoming unstable. These deficiencies put workers at serious risk of injury given that they were working 18 feet above the ground. As we noted in our prior post, workers can sustain serious injuries after falling from six feet above the ground.
OSHA also issued a stop work order because of these deficiencies, and it learned that the contractor failed to report a workplace injury prior to the inspection.
Despite this, the contractor continued work on the project. OSHA learned of this and issued a bevy of fines totaling $72,735.00. Additionally, OSHA referred the matter to the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office since the violation of the stop work order could be deemed a criminal violation.