News | May 24, 1999

Company Changes its Name but Doesn't Change its Tune

New England Brickmaster Windows and Exteriors Inc., of Tewksbury, MA, was cited by OSHA for alleged willful, repeat and serious scaffolding safety violations at a job site in Cambridge, MA. The agency has proposed penalties totaling $157,600 for the alleged violations.

According to K. Frank Gravitt, OSHA area director for Northeastern Massachusetts, the alleged violations were discovered during an inspection of a job site located at 45 Erie Street in Cambridge on Nov. 16, 1998. "Unfortunately, what our inspectors found there was a litany of problems quite familiar to this company. This firm and its predecessor companies have a long history of similar safety violations, all having to do with unsafe scaffolds," said Gravitt.

Gravitt noted that OSHA has inspected the company three times previously. In addition, the company is connected to two now defunct companies with significant OSHA inspection histories. Garden State Brickface and Stucco from Roselle, NJ, was a sister company to New England Brickmaster Inc. from Tewksbury, MA. OSHA inspected Garden State Brickface and Stucco 47 times between 1976 and 1991 and inspections resulted in 74 serious, 11 willful and 13 repeat violations of the scaffold standards. OSHA inspected New England Brickmaster Inc. four times, with six serious and two repeat violations of the scaffold standards. Both of these companies were dissolved in March of 1992, and their assets were sold in an involuntary auction. New England Brickmaster Windows and Exteriors Inc. immediately re-opened with the employees and management from New England Brickmaster, Inc.

"Considering the history of this company and its predecessors," said Gravitt, "there is absolutely no excuse for the violations we found during this most recent inspection. Quite simply, this is an unfortunate example of an employer with absolutely no regard for the requirements of federal law, much less the safety of its employees."

Gravitt stated that New England Brickmaster is being charged with the following alleged scaffolding safety violations:

  • Four alleged willful violations, carrying total proposed penalties of $140,000, for: failing to erect a scaffold system in accordance with the design; failing to install a guardrail system along all open sides and ends of a platforms on a scaffold system; failing to diagonally brace the scaffold system in both directions across the entire outside face; and failing to provide stairways or ladders at all personnel points of access/egress on the scaffold system.
  • One alleged repeat violation, with a proposed penalty of $10,000, for failure to remove damaged or weakened parts of a scaffold system from service.
  • Five alleged serious violations, with proposed penalties totaling $7,600, for: allowing an employee to wear sneakers rather than leather work boots on the job site; allowing an air hose to be secured to a pneumatic powered nail gun with adjustable hose; failing to ensure that the upright poles on a scaffold system were placed on footings that were level, sound, rigid and capable of supporting the load; failing to ensure that the scaffold system was inspected by a competent person prior to each work shift; and failing to ensure that employees working on the scaffold system were properly trained.

Gravitt noted that OSHA recently launched a special emphasis program aimed at reducing fatal fall hazards in New England. The program uses a combination of targeted enforcement and education activity designed to help employers and workers identify and eliminate fall hazards in construction, where falls are the leading cause of death, and in general industry, where fall hazards may not be as obvious. The program's four major components combine outreach efforts, compliance assistance, an increased emphasis on identifying and addressing fall hazards during general industry inspections and targeted inspections of workplaces where fall hazards are observed.

He urged Bay State employers and employees with questions regarding fall protection or any other OSHA workplace safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area offices in Braintree (617-565-6924), Methuen (617-565-8110) or Springfield (413-785-0123) for information and assistance. He reminded employers and workers that OSHA's toll-free, nationwide hotline -- 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742) -- may be used to report workplace accidents or fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially if they occur outside of normal business hours.