Tues., May 27, 2008
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
BRAINTREE, Mass. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Ajax Construction Co. Inc. for 15 alleged violations of steel erection safety standards in connection with a Dec. 4, 2007, building collapse at a Taunton, Mass., worksite that injured eight employees. The Harrisville, R.I.-based steel erection contractor faces a total of $239,600 in proposed fines.
"The sizable fines proposed here reflect both the gravity of the hazards found at this jobsite, and the employer's knowledge of and failure to correct them," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director in Braintree. "This employer's refusal to properly follow basic steel erection procedures placed employees at risk of crushing and other catastrophic injuries or death before, during and after the collapse."
OSHA's inspection found that a powered industrial truck was improperly used to plumb, or straighten, a steel column that was disconnected from an overhead girder. Once the column was pulled out from under the now unsupported girder, the girder and the overhead decking on which employees were working collapsed. Afterward, a company official repeatedly entered the damaged structure even though entry was prohibited because the structure had not yet been stabilized and determined to be safe for entry.
For these conditions, plus failure to maintain structural stability during steel erection and other steel erection deficiencies, OSHA has issued Ajax Construction four willful citations, carrying $212,000 in proposed fines. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.
OSHA also has issued the company nine serious citations, with $21,000 in proposed fines, for exposing employees to struck-by hazards while the powered industrial truck was used to plumb steel columns; improper lifting slings; commencing steel erection without written notification as to the strength of concrete used for the base; improper modification of anchor bolts; and several steel erection deficiencies within an adjacent structure also under construction. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
In addition, OSHA has issued Ajax one repeat citation, with a $6,000 proposed fine, for an inadequate fall protection lifeline, a condition similar to one at a Wallingford, Conn., worksite for which OSHA had cited Ajax in July 2006. Finally, OSHA has issued one other-than-serious citation, with a $600 proposed fine, for not completing the OSHA 300 illness and injury log in a timely manner.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Braintree Area Office; telephone 617-565-6924.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to promote the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
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