Florida Company Cited for Exposing Workers to Fatal Falls

A Florida-based construction firm was cited today by OSHA for\r\nknowingly exposing workers to potentially fatal fall hazards at a New\r\nJersey Turnpike bridge.

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A Florida-based construction firm was cited today by OSHA for knowingly exposing workers to potentially fatal fall hazards at a New Jersey Turnpike bridge.

OSHA cited Damalos & Sons Inc., a company specializing in sandblasting and bridge painting, for 14 violations, including nine alleged willful violations for lack of fall protection.

Employees were preparing a bridge over the Rahway River near Elizabeth, N.J. for repainting.

OSHA is proposing that the company pay $456,000 in penalties.

"The owner of this company is well aware of OSHA''s fall protection standards," said OSHA Administrator Charles N. Jeffress. "He was notified by OSHA personnel and consultants hired by the New Jersey Turnpike that he needed to provide fall protection, but he would not comply. His indifference to safety regulations and his reckless disregard for the safety of his employees is intolerable. The action we''re taking is more than justified."

The citations resulted from an investigation begun last December after OSHA received information that employees at the site were working 40 feet over water on suspended cable work platforms without safety harnesses and lanyards to protect them from potentially fatal falls.

At the time of the inspection, the employer was erecting scaffolding for the planned bridge work.

Of the 14 violations cited, nine were alleged willful violations for not providing personal fall arrest systems for employees working on suspended cable scaffolds.

Four alleged serious citations were also issued citing fall protection, scaffolding and highway barricade violations.

Finally, OSHA issued one alleged repeat violation for not having a life-saving boat available for employees working over water.

Damalos & Sons Inc. is based in Tarpon Springs, Fla. and does bridge work throughout the eastern United States.

The company employs 50 workers; 13 of those workers are working at the New Jersey bridge site.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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