Contractors on Chicago Jobsite Fined $324,500

OSHA issued citations to two construction contractors in Chicago's West Loop for allegedly failing to protect workers from falls and improperly storing potentially explosive gas cylinders.

"To ensure that injury and illness rates continue to decline, we must make sure that employers protect employees from workplace hazards," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "The significant penalty of $324,500 in this case demonstrates this administration's commitment to protecting the health and safety of American workers."

OSHA has proposed $176,000 in fines against Bovis Lend Lease Inc., headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., the prime contractor at the 71 S. Wacker jobsite, a 48-story high-rise. The agency is also proposing a $148,500 fine against Detroit-based Midwest Steel Inc., a subcontractor responsible for steel erection on the site.

Both companies were issued citations for alleged serious and willful violations for lack of fall protection and for improper storage of gas cylinders. Bovis also received repeat citations for issues related to fall protection.

The fines and OSHA citations follow an inspection initiated in October 2003 that found workers were not protected from falls while performing steel beam connecting work at greater than 30 feet above the next level, and structural steel not being connected with at least two bolts per connection. Those violations were classified as willful. Citations alleged as serious include additional fall protection issues, the improper storage of compressed gas cylinders and the failure to separate oxygen cylinders from acetylene cylinders.

Midwest Steel employs about 1,000 workers at various sites around the country and had 30 workers at the Chicago site. Bovis Lend Lease employs some 2,500 workers nationwide, including approximately 15 at the Chicago site. The companies have 15 working days from receipt of the citations to appeal before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

In fiscal year 2003, OSHA conducted almost 40,000 inspections, an increase of more than 2,000 inspections over FY 2002 levels; more than half focused on high-hazard industries.

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