Region 9 News Release: USDL-225
Wednesday, December 23, 1998
Contact: Tino Serrano, (415) 975-4742
GUAM CONSTRUCTION COMPANY FINED $151,000 FOR REPEATEDLY VIOLATING WORKPLACE SAFETY RULES
SAN FRANCISCO --The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued citations against a Guam construction firm last week for numerous repeat violations of federal safety and health standards despite previous OSHA citations for the same hazards.
OSHA delivered citations to Hanjin Construction Company December following an OSHA inspection at the Guam International Air Terminal expansion project which confirmed that Hanjin employees working as high as fifty feet above the ground are not protected from falls.
"Failure to protect workers from falls from heights is one of the leading causes of construction work site deaths," said Leonard Limtiaco, supervisor of the OSHA team which conducted the inspection of Hanjin, "OSHA will continue to focus on preventing falls and the other hazards which most frequently contribute to construction fatalities: electrical shocks, being struck by falling objects, and being crushed."
Hanjin received citations for three repeat violations and one serious violation. The repeat violations are all for instances where Hanjin failed to provide fall protection. In one case, workers using equipment to waterproof a roof worked along an unprotected roof edge 50 feet above an asphalt roadway. In another, a window installer worked on a narrow ledge 40 feet above the ground. Another worker, installing a bracket at the edge of a roof 32 feet high, was also without any equipment to prevent a fall. The repeat violations include penalties of $50,000 each.
The single serious violation against Hanjin is for allowing an employee to use a safety belt instead of a complete safety harness in a personal fall arrest system. The penalty is $1,500.
Hanjin Construction Company is a subsidiary of Hanjin Construction Company, Ltd., one of the prime contractors on the Guam airport expansion project. The parent company is an international conglomerate based in Seoul, South Korea. The Hanjin construction subsidiary employs approximately 1,000 employees on major construction projects worldwide. Hanjin has received several previous citations for failure to provide adequate fall protection at the airport expansion worksite, including two serious violations and one unclassified violation in January 1996, and one serious violation in July 1997. In 1997 OSHA also cited Hanjin for 11 serious, willful and repeat violations for other safety issues.
"This case is particularly frustrating," continued Limtiaco, "because the employer largely ignored previous OSHA efforts to encourage the correction of obviously hazardous conditions. By so doing, the employer knowingly put his employees at risk of death or serious injury."
OSHA issues a serious citation only when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer either knew, or should have known, of the hazard. A repeat violation is issued when, upon a subsequent OSHA inspection, a substantially similar violation is found.
An employer who receives citations from OSHA has 15 working days to request an informal conference or to file a notice of contest.