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Motel Owner Faces Willful Violation for Ignoring Cal/OSHA Red-Tag

Cal/OSHA has cited a Santa Barbara motel owner for willful and other violations after it discovered that he had removed a reg-tag on what the agency says was a hazardous scaffold and ordered employees to continue working from it. The agency also cited the employer for failing to report a serious injury last summer stemming from fall protection deficiencies at the motel expansion project.

Dario Pini, principal of DP Investments, faces more than $72,000 in potential penalties in the case. He previously pleaded no contest in Santa Barbara County Superior Court for the stop-work violation and is on three years of probation.

The story begins in October, when a complaint about the scaffold at an expansion project at the motel brought out inspectors from the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. They determined that the scaffold was unsafe because it lacked base plates to establish a firm foundation, guardrails to prevent falls and even a ladder to provide safe access.

They slapped a red-tag on the scaffold and warned Pini that employees could not use it until the hazardous conditions were corrected. But when safety officers returned to re-inspect 11 days later, they saw that those conditions still existed, the stop-work order had been removed from the scaffold and employees were working on it. Cal/OSHA also learned that the previous August, a worker had fallen from a second-story window because a window grate had been removed. The almost 12-foot fall left the carpenter with multiple fractures, but DP Investments never reported the incident.

While DOSH was conducting its investigation into all of this, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney filed charges against DP, and this March Pini plead out, receiving probation and a $1,000 fine.

The willful violation was cited under Construction Safety Orders §1644, and it comes with a $54,000 proposed penalty. Pini also faces two other serious violations for failing to erect the scaffold under the supervision of a qualified person, and for allegedly exposing a laborer to a potential 18-foot fall by having him work at the perimeter of the project's roof without fall protection.

 

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