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OSHA Fines Piling Up for NJ Contractor

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

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A New Jersey stucco contractor is racking up a hefty bill with federal safety authorities, having just added a $61,600 fine to an overdue six-figure tab from similar cases.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Beno Stucco Systems of Rochelle Park for six safety violations—including five repeat violations—involving fall and scaffolding hazards while employees were applying stucco to a commercial building in Westwood, NJ.

That inspection in June followed the sighting of an "imminent danger fall hazard," according to OSHA.

OSHA also cited the company in August for similar violations and imposed $30,800 in fines. The company has other debts with OSHA that date back several years.

Beno Stucco could not be reached for comment Monday (Jan. 7). Its website was unavailable, and the phone number was out of service.

Repeat Fall Violations

The new repeat violations, carrying $58,520 in proposed penalties, involve exposing workers to fall and scaffolding hazards and failing to provide workers with protective helmets to prevent injuries from falling objects.

OSHA fall protection

Falls are the leading cause of death for workers in residential construction. OSHA offers guidance on fall protection in residential construction on its website.

A repeat violation is issued when an employer has been cited for the same or a similar violation at any other facility in federal enforcement states within five years.

Beno Stucco was cited in 2007, 2009 and 2011 for similar violations.

Serious Fall Violation

The new serious violation, with a $3,080 proposed penalty, involves failure to have a competent person inspect scaffolds and scaffold components for visible defects before each work shift and after any occurrence that could affect a scaffold's structural integrity.

In addition, OSHA said, the company did not inspect the job site, materials and scaffold components to prevent employees from working without full planking, fall protection and scaffold access.

A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability of death or serious injury from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

"This company repeatedly neglected to implement basic, common-sense and legally required safeguards to ensure that scaffolds were erected properly and fall protection was provided for employees working at heights of 10 feet or more," said Lisa Levy, director of OSHA's area office in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ.

Fall protection

Fall protection violations were the leading category of OSHA citations in 2011. Scaffolding violations had led the list earlier, but they ranked third that year.

Overdue Fines, Earlier Records

In addition to the two 2012 cases, an OSHA spokeswoman confirmed Monday that Beno Stucco still owes the agency $69,300 from a November 2010 case (which included four repeat violations); $2,772 (reduced from $4,620) from an October 2010 case; and $13,980 from a 2011 case.

A 2008 case, involving two repeat and two serious violations, also remains open, according to records. The current fine is $12,000, reduced from $24,000. The company paid part of the fine, then stopped, said OSHA spokeswoman Joanna Hawkins.

All of those cases involve violations of general requirements, head protection, and scaffolding standards.

Beno Stucco is considered in default on all of those cases, and debt collection proceedings are underway, Hawkins said.

In addition, the company has two closed cases with OSHA from 2007 and two from 2005. All four cases involve repeat and serious violations, and those fines have been paid.

Beno Stucco Systems has 15 business days from receipt of the new citations to contest or comply with them.


Tagged categories: Commercial contractors; Enforcement; Fall protection; Health and safety; OSHA; Residential contractors; Scaffolding; Stucco

Comment from M. Halliwell, (1/8/2013, 10:45 AM)

Man alive! Talk about a long history of not looking out for its workers. At least ten citation events with multiple repeat violations each. It's companies like this that make me glad that OSHA is referring cases for criminal prosecution when (not if in this case...this company sounds like a potential fatality waiting to happen) someone dies on the job due to willful disregard to safety. When do we get to shut them down?

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