A Florida-based construction firm was cited for the second time this year by OSHA for knowingly exposing workers to potentially fatal fall hazards at a bridge near Elizabeth, N.J. OSHA is proposing penalties totaling $217,500.
Damalos & Sons Inc., a company specializing in abrasive blasting and bridge painting, was cited for 14 violations including two willful violations for lack of fall protection.
"We cited this company for the same violations at the same job site in April," said OSHA Administrator Charles Jeffress. "Still, the owner continued to ignore repeated warnings from OSHA personnel and paint inspectors and engineers that he needed to provide fall protection. His indifference to safety regulations and his reckless disregard for the safety of his employees is intolerable. He must be held accountable."
Yesterday''s citation resulted from an investigation begun last April after OSHA received information that employees at the site were again working 40 feet over water on suspended cable work platforms without independent safety tie-off cables to protect them from falls.
At the time of the inspection, workers were abrasive blasting the bridge to remove old paint containing lead.
In addition to being cited for not providing personal fall arrest systems for employees working on suspended cable scaffolds, the company was cited for not ensuring that employees who are exposed to high lead levels shower at the end of the work shift.
OSHA also cited the company for defective forklift trucks, respirator violations, lack of clean protective clothing, and allowing employees to eat while wearing clothing that had not been cleaned of surface lead dust.
The repeat violations included not having a life-saving boat available for employees working over water (the company was cited for this twice before); failure to ensure that a decontamination trailer was free of lead accumulations; and failure to properly maintain OSHA 200 log (the company was cited for this twice before).
Damalos & Sons Inc., based in Tarpon Springs, Fla., does bridge work throughout the eastern United States.
The company employs 50 workers, six of those were working at the New Jersey bridge site.
OSHA cited the company on April 25 for nine alleged willful violations for exposing workers to fall hazards at the same job site and proposed penalties of $456,000. The company formally contested those citations.
by Virginia Sutcliffe