Region 1 News Release: BOS 2001-062
Monday, May 21, 2001
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: (617) 565-2074
Maximum fines of $77,000 proposed against Green Mountain Steel Erectors
OSHA CITES BENNINGTON, VERMONT, CONTRACTOR FOR ALLEGED WILLFUL AND SERIOUS VIOLATIONS AT DEVENS, MASS., JOBSITE
BOSTON -- The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Green Mountain Steel Erectors, Inc., a Bennington, Vermont, steel erection contractor, for alleged willful and serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act at a Devens, Mass., jobsite.
OSHA has proposed $77,000 in fines -- the maximum penalty allowed -- against the firm for lack of fall protection for employees working in aerial lifts more than 25 feet above the ground.
The inspection was initiated when an OSHA inspector driving by a construction site at Jackson and Givray Street in Devens observed employees working in aerial lifts without proper fall protection and opened an inspection on the spot, said Richard Fazzio, OSHA area director for Northeastern Massachusetts.
"The inspection found employees, including supervisors, working without fall protection in three aerial lifts at heights in excess of 25 feet above the ground," said Fazzio. "In each case, employees had required body harnesses and safety lanyards available but either were not using them or were using them improperly. In addition, one employee was observed standing on the middle rail of a lift basket during steel erection procedures, in plain view of a foreman. These conditions exposed workers to potentially fatal falls."
Fazzio explained that falls are a leading cause of worker deaths in construction and that about 253 American workers died in construction related falls in 1999, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"The best safety equipment in the world won't protect workers if it isn't used, and used properly," said Fazzio. "Even though this employer knew that OSHA standards require that employees working in aerial lifts have body belts and lanyards that are attached to the boom or basket and that employees do not stand on or work from the basket's siderails, these simple, clear, commonsense safeguards were disregarded."
Fazzio urged employers and employees in Northeastern Massachusetts with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area office in Methuen at 617-565-8110. He said OSHA's toll-free, nationwide hotline -- 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742) -- may be used to report workplace accidents or fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially if they occur outside of normal business hours.
Detailed information on construction safety, including fall protection, is available on the Internet through OSHA's website: www.osha.gov.
A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations. The maximum fine that can be proposed for a willful violation is $70,000.
A serious violation is defined as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard. The maximum fine that can be proposed for a serious violation is $7,000.
OSHA is empowered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to issue standards and rules requiring employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces and jobsites, and to assure through workplace inspections that those standards are followed.
The company has 15 working days from receipt of the 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.########
The information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (617) 565-2072. TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) Message Referral Phone: 800-347-8029.