Region 2 News Release: N178
September 6, 2001
Contact: Chester J. Fultz
ROOFER'S FATAL FALL BRINGS PROPOSED PENALTIES OF $65,000 FOR CONTRACTORS AT MONMOUTH JUNCTION, N.J., WAREHOUSE SITE
AVENEL, N.J. -- The fatal fall of a Howell, N.J. roofer who was installing steel decking more than 30 feet above ground without nets or other fall protection has resulted in citations and proposed penalties totaling $65,000. Two other workers were previously injured on the project in Monmouth Junction, N.J.
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited State Sheet Metal, 1595 Route 206, Bedminster, N.J., for failing to provide nets or other fall protection, an alleged repeat violation carrying a proposed penalty of $50,000. On Feb. 28, Thor Larsen, 32, of Howell, N.J., fell to his death while installing decking on a warehouse building under construction at 77 Deans Rhode Hall Road in Monmouth Junction, according to Robert D. Kulick, OSHA area director.
"This tragic accident could have been avoided," Kulick said. "The employer was on notice, not once but twice, for failure to provide adequate protection for employees. Failure to take necessary and common-sense steps has cost a life, and that is inexcusable."
A repeat violation is one for which an employer has been previously cited for the same or a substantially similar condition and the citation has become a final order of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. State Sheet Metal was previously cited for this type of violation in South Brunswick, N.J., in January, 1990, and again in Edison, N.J. in March, 1999.
Two other contractors also received citations for serious and repeat violations as a result of the same investigation for endangering workers with unsafe scaffolding and improperly managed debris. D&D Associates, Jackson, N.J., and Universal General Sheet Metal, Edison, N.J., received proposed penalties totaling $15,000.
Accidents and injuries at the same site brought OSHA penalties to two other contractors late last year. On Nov. 24 an employee fell 36 feet from a steel beam, and on Dec. 15 another employee received a leg injury when struck by a falling steel beam. Their employer, United Steel Erectors, Kenvil, N.J., was cited for one alleged willful violation and two alleged serious violations, with a total proposed penalty of $39,000. The other company, Caruso Excavating Co., Farmingdale, N.J., was cited for alleged repeat and serious violations with proposed penalties totaling $15,400 for trenching hazards.
Companies cited by OSHA have 15 working days from receipt of the citations either to elect to comply with them, to schedule an informal conference with the OSHA area office, or to contest
them before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. State Sheet Metal and D&D Associates have contested the citations; Universal General has abated the hazards and agreed to a reduced penalty of $2,940.
The investigation was conducted by OSHA's Avenel area office, located at Plaza 35, Suite 205, 1030 St. George's Avenue, Avenel, New Jersey, telephone (732) 750-3270.