On March 20, a worker fell 10 feet from the 34th to the 33rd floor of a building under construction at 505 West 37th Street after dislodging the unsecured cover of a floor hole. OSHA’s inspection identified several fall-related hazards including inadequate fall protection, unsecured and unmarked floor hole covers, a personal fall arrest system rigged so a worker could fall more than six feet, and failure to retrain workers to ensure they recognize such hazards. OSHA also found an ungrounded power tool, uncovered electrical outlet and discharged fire extinguishers.
“While it's fortunate that this worker was not killed, falls remain the number one killer in construction work,” said Kay Gee, OSHA's acting area director in Manhattan. “One wrong step can end a worker's career or life. We want to emphasize to all contractors the importance of supplying effective fall protection safeguards and training to their workers.”
OSHA has issued Sorbara Construction three repeat citations, with $62,500 in proposed fines, for the lack of fall protection and training and the ungrounded power tool, as the contractor had been cited by OSHA in November 2008 for similar hazards at a worksite at 333 East 91st Street in Manhattan. OSHA also cited the contractor with four serious citations, carrying $9,500 in fines, for the remaining hazards. Serious citations are issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.
“One means by which employers can prevent new and recurring workplace hazards is through an effective safety and health management system in which they work with their employees on a continual basis to actively identify, analyze and eliminate hazardous conditions,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.
When contacted by EHS Today, a Sorbara Construction employee said the company has no comment on the fines.
Sorbara Construction has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA or contest these items before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
For information on fall hazards and fall protection, visit http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/fallprotection/index.html.