The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Thomas Industrial Coatings Inc. of Pevely, Mo., for 33 willful, including "instance-by-instance" willful, and eight serious alleged violations of job safety and health standards. Proposed penalties total $2,362,500.

 

OSHA's citations resulted from the investigation of two fatal workplace accidents within two months involving the painting contractor. Both accidents occurred at the same bridge painting worksite in Kansas City and the same suspended scaffold. One employee died when he fell through a hole in the platform while he was painting. The other employee fell to his death while dismantling the scaffold.

 

"Not only did two workers suffer fatal falls while working in Kansas City, but another employee of this company suffered a fatal fall in a similar accident earlier in the year in the St. Louis area," said Edwin G. Foulke Jr., assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "Three fatalities in five months show gross plain indifference to employee safety. Employers must ensure that their workers are protected from unsafe working conditions."

 

The instance-by-instance willful violations alleged the lack of fall protection and training for employees especially in the use of fall protection and the safe dismantling of the scaffold. The single willful citations alleged the lack of safe scaffold access; that a qualified person did not design the scaffold; and that there were no competent persons to supervise the work. The citations also alleged the employer failed to inspect the scaffold and its components and to secure the suspension cables properly. The serious citations addressed other unsafe practices including the employer's permitting debris that employees could trip over in front of the large platform holes and overloading the personnel lift.

 

Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of the requirements of the OSH Act or plain indifference to employee safety. OSHA can issue instance-by-instance citations for each violation of a standard; for example, as in this case, issuing a citation for each platform hole through which an employee could have fallen. Serious violations are those that could result in death or serious physical harm about which the employer knew or should have known.

 

The employer has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply and pay the penalties, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.