Violations found by the Labor Department after a workplace accident cost New Hanover County Schools more than $20,000.
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) -
New Hanover County Schools paid more than $20,000 in penalties for violations uncovered after an accident last July inside Brogden Hall on the New Hanover High School campus.
Two maintenance workers were hurt when the scaffolding they were using to replacing lights fell over.
According to the Department of Labor, New Hanover County Schools was cited for five “serious” violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, resulting in a penalty of $31,500. The school system requested an informal conference with the Labor Department, and in an “informal settlement agreement”, the amount of the penalties was reduced to $20,475. The number of serious violations remained at five. The school system paid the penalties from the schools' general fund on January 28.
According to the Department of Labor, the maximum penalty for each serious violation is $7,000
Among the violations listed in the state report, the scaffolding was moved or altered while the workers were using it, the scaffolding exceeded the proper height requirements, and the scaffolding was not put up by “competent or experienced personnel”.
According to Chief Communications Officer Valita Quattlebaum, the school system has corrected all of the safety concerns addressed in the Labor Department investigation. They include:
Only properly trained employees will be involved in scaffold operations. Scaffolding operations will be extremely limited and aerial lifts will be used instead.
Employees must have permission from Maintenance Director Chris Peterson and have previous training before scaffolding equipment can be used.
Everyone will be certified in the usage aerial lifts, which are considered safer for routine jobs of nominal heights.
Safety training is ongoing, but it has been made more stringent in areas such as the wearing of hard hats, expanding the use area of hard hats in more work areas and we have re-emphasized their usage by employees, following all safety procedures, etc.