Three Contractors Fined $177,000 for Violations at Manhattan Construction Project

Nov. 26, 2002
The federal investigation of two fatal accidents earlier this year at a Manhattan construction site has resulted in three construction contractors being cited for significant safety violations and fined $177,000 by OSHA.

The first accident occurred May 22 when an employee of Diamond Installations Inc., of New Rochelle, N.Y., was killed while operating a forklift truck on the eighth floor of the AOL-Time Warner Building, under construction at 10 Columbus Circle.

The second occurred Sept. 11 when an employee of Sorbara Construction Corp., of Lynbrook, N.Y., was struck in the head by a falling object during a windstorm at the same site.

The managing contractor, Bovis Lend Lease LMB Inc., of New York, was also fined.

"Construction worksites pose a wide range of hazards," said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "Everything must be done on constructions sites, including safety training and carefully following safety standards, to prevent tragedies such as these."

According to Richard Mendelson, area director for OSHA's Manhattan office, Diamond Installations is being cited for two alleged willful violations for failure to properly train the operator of the forklift truck, and failure to provide other workers with fall protection while they worked near the edge of open sided floors installing windows. Proposed penalties total $112,000. A willful violation as one committed with intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

Sorbara Construction is being cited for two alleged serious violations with proposed penalties of $10,000 for failure to properly guard a floor hole and failure to provide workers with protection against overhead falling objects. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm result from a hazard about which the employer knew, or should have known.

Mendelson noted that OSHA recently cited Sorbara Construction as a result of another accidental fall that injured an employee in August at the same construction site. Those citations have been settled. Sorbara will pay a $12,000 penalty.

Finally, Bovis Lend Lease LMB Inc. is being cited for one alleged serious violation for an unguarded wall opening, and two alleged repeat violations for an unguarded floor hole and lack of protection from overhead falling objects. Proposed penalties total $55,000. A repeat violation occurs when a company has been cited for similar violations within the past three years.

Citations for not protecting workers against overhead falling objects that were issued to Sorbara and Bovis are not related to the September fatal accident. OSHA determined that the victim in that case was in an area where safety standards did not require overhead protection.

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

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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