OSHA: Companies Gambled on Safety and Lost

OSHA has proposed more than $127,000 in fines against five contractors for hazards at casino construction site in Queens, NY. The companies were cited for 19 alleged serious violations of workplace health and safety standards.

According to OSHA, the contractors, which were converting the former Aqueduct Racetrack into a casino, exposed workers to excess lead levels, failed to provide engineering controls to reduce lead exposure levels, failed to conduct initial exposure assessments, did not proper respiratory protection or protective clothing to employees, did not provide clean clothing change facilities and showers, failed to provide biological monitoring results to employees and failed to provide fall protection and related training.

“Chronic overexposure to lead may result in severe damage to workers’ blood-forming, nervous, urinary and reproductive systems,” said Kay Gee, OSHA’s area director for Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn. “The most effective way to protect workers is to minimize their exposure through engineering controls, good work practices and training, as well as the use of personal protective clothing and equipment, including respirators when required. However, these safeguards can be compromised if they are not all used at all times on all jobsites.”

Four contractors – Tutor Perini Corp. in Jamaica, N.Y.; Navillus Contracting Inc. in Manhattan; LVI Demolition Services Inc. in Everett, Mass.; and Manafort Brothers Inc. in Plainville, Conn. – were cited for inadequate safeguards to protect workers exposed to airborne concentrations of lead while performing torch cutting operations. A fifth contractor, Blue Diamond Sheet Metal Inc. in Medford, N.Y., was cited for failing to provide fall protection and related training.

For the lead-related hazards, Tutor Perini Corp. was cited for five serious violations with $35,000 in fines, while the other three were received four serious violations each. Navillus Contracting Inc. was issued $21,000 in fines, while LVI Demolition Services Inc. and Manafort Brothers Inc. both were issued $28,000 in fines. Blue Diamond Sheet Metal Inc. was cited for two serious violations with $15,400 in fines for the fall-related hazards. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Detailed information on lead hazards and safeguards in construction and demolition work is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/lead/construction.html. Information on fall protection is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/fallprotection/index.html.

“One means of preventing workplace hazards such as these is for employers to implement effective illness and injury prevention programs in which they work continuously with their employees to identify and eliminate hazards,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

Each employer has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with Gee or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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