OSHA Enforcement

Four New Jersey Contractors Face $463,350 in OSHA Fines

Following an OSHA inspection alleging that workers on the fourth floor of a 20-storey building in Jersey City, N.J., were working without fall protection, four contractors received OSHA citations with proposed fines totaling $463,350.

The contractors include Altura Concrete Inc. and Nathil Corp., both of Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., and White Diamonds Properties LLC and Blade Contracting Inc., both of Jersey City, N.J. The OSHA inspection occurred in December 2011, where inspectors observed employees working on the fourth floor without personal fall protection or fall protection systems.

"Year after year, falls remain the leading cause of death in the construction industry, accounting for almost one in every three construction worker deaths," said OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels. "We know how to prevent falls, and employers have a clear responsibility to provide the right equipment and procedures. When working at heights, everyone needs to plan ahead to get the job done safely, provide the right equipment and train workers to use the equipment safely."

Altura Concrete, Inc. and Nathil Corp., the concrete contractors for the foundation and superstructure of the building, directed 75 employees on-site. The two companies have been cited for five willful violations with citations proposed penalties totaling $315,000 for failing to protect workers from fall hazards created by open sides and edges on the fourth, sixth, seventh, eighth, 10th and 13th floors, as well as protect workers from fall hazards created by the misuse of self-supporting stepladders. The companies also have received citations carrying $40,500 in penalties for nine serious violations, including failing to provide PPE, protecting workers from fall hazards created by open holes and more.

General contractor White Diamonds Properties, with seven employees on-site, has been issued citations for two willful violations involving failing to protect workers from fall hazards, as well as citations for five serious violations related to improper storage of compressed gas cylinders, unprotected rebar and failing to have drawings for shoring/reshoring on-site. The citations carry $95,400 in penalties. Finally, masonry contractor Blade Contracting, with 21 employees on-site, has been cited with three serious violations for failing to protect workers from fall hazards, properly use a scaffold and inspect scaffold components for defects. The citations carry $11,550 in penalties.

The companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

The Height of Fall Protection

More than 10,000 construction workers were injured in 2010 as a result of falling while working from heights, and more than 250 workers were killed. To further address these safety concerns, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis recently announced a new fall protection campaign to provide employers and workers with lifesaving information and educational materials about working safely from ladders, scaffolds and roofs in an effort to prevent deadly falls in the construction industry.

OSHA's fall prevention campaign was developed in partnership with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and NIOSH's National Occupational Research Agenda program. More information on fall protection standards is available in English and Spanish at http://www.osha.gov/stopfalls.

"OSHA's message is simple: Safety pays and falls cost," Michaels concluded.

TAGS: Construction
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