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North Carolina companies fined after fatal accident

Earlier this year, three workers were killed and one was seriously injured when scaffolding fell during the construction of a high-rise building in downtown Raleigh. The North Carolina Department of Labor recently fined three of the companies that were involved in that construction project.

The highest fine went to a Durham company called Associated Scaffolding Co.  According to the Labor Department, this company must pay a total of $151,900 in fines for four separation violations of North Carolina's Occupational Safety and Health Act. Three of the violations are described as being willful and serious. These violations include failing to have someone competent available to implement safety procedures to prevent workers from falling, failing to install ties and/or braces according to manufacturer recommendations, and loading the scaffolding with too much weight. The fourth violation was for the company's failure to properly inspect the scaffolding. 

The other two companies, Jannawall and Juba Aluminium Products, must each pay fines of $4,200 for violating OSHA by failing to have a qualified person train their employees.

In North Carolina, companies face a maximum penalty of $70,000 for each willful violation and $7,000 for each serious violation of OSHA. OSHA was created to help prevent work-related illness, injuries, and deaths. Under the Act, employers have a number of obligations, such as providing a safe workplace, eliminating or minimizing hazards, and training employees on how to address hazards. When companies fail to meet those obligations, such as in the case of the three companies above, they may face steep fines by the Labor Department.

In addition to meeting the requirements of OSHA, most North Carolina employers must provide workers' compensation insurance for their employees. Failure to do so can also result in fines or even criminal charges. Workers' compensation insurance provides benefits to employees who are injured on the job.

If you are a construction worker who was injured on the job, you may be entitled to workers' compensation. An experienced attorney can evaluate your case and determine what steps you must take to get the maximum benefits you deserve.  

Source: wsoctv, "Companies involved in fatal scaffolding accident face fines," Martha Waggoner, Sept. 23, 2015

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