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Safety official stumbles upon unsafe Pennsylvania work site

On occasion, it takes a devastating accident to push employers to make the changes necessary to preserve the health of their staff. In a recent incident, however, a Pennsylvania safety noticed a major safety violation as he was driving by a residential construction site. A subsequent investigation revealed that the construction company used faulty scaffolding that could have caused a serious workplace accident.

In total, eight safety violations were leveled against a Pennsylvania-based masonry firm by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which will cost the company $154,440 in fines. The fines are primarily the result of inadequate safety measures on scaffolding used during a residential stone installation project.

The most concerning violation came in response to a complete lack of "fall arrest" devices installed on scaffolding over 10 feet high. According to the OSHA citation, this represented a willful violation, because the company intentionally ignored established safety regulations. Additionally, the company faces fines for repeat violations based on the results of inspections at other construction sites.

If the safety compliance officer had not driven by the worksite, this story could have ended in tragedy. In this case, the construction company should have been enforcing safety regulations without the prompting of OSHA citations. They were aware of the regulations, but chose not to follow them. Safety should be the top priority at constructions sites, no matter what.

The masonry firm now has 15 days to respond to the OSHA citations. They can choose to comply with the orders or dispute the citations. Based on the nature of the fines, the hope is that the company will do the right thing by choosing to comply and make a serious effort to protect the lives of their workers.

Source:, "OSHA Proposes $154,440 in Fines for PA Contractor," May 10, 2012

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