Region 1 News Release: 12-1157-BOS/BOS 2012-113
June 19, 2012
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
US Labor Department's OSHA cites Pawtucket River Bridge reconstruction
contractor, proposes $60,900 in fines for inadequate rescue and fall safeguards
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the general contractor for the reconstruction of the Pawtucket River Bridge for alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards for inadequate rescue procedures and for fall hazards. S&R/Pihl, a joint venture LLC, faces a total of $60,900 in proposed fines following an inspection by OSHA's Providence Area Office.
OSHA found that S&R/Pihl did not have procedures and equipment in place for the prompt rescue of employees working at heights of up to 90 feet. The contractor's emergency response plan did not ensure that proper rescue equipment and trained personnel were readily available if needed.
As a result, OSHA issued S&R/Pihl a citation with a $56,000 fine for this willful violation. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
"If employees fall from a high angle and are suspended by their personal fall arrest systems, or if they need to be evacuated from elevated work areas due to an emergency, then time is of the utmost essence in rescuing them. Rescue measures, including appropriate equipment, must be available and ready to be put into use immediately," said Patrick Griffin, OSHA's area director for Rhode Island. "Despite being informed of this requirement, S&R/Pihl has thus far refused to take steps to abate this hazard to its employees."
OSHA also issued a citation with a $4,900 fine for a serious violation involving a lack of fall protection for employees working atop the bridge deck, who were exposed to falls up to 90 feet. 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.
In April, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis announced a new campaign to provide employers and workers with lifesaving information and educational materials about working safely from ladders, scaffolds and roofs in an effort to prevent deadly falls in the construction industry. In 2010, more than 10,000 construction workers were injured as a result of falling while working from heights, and more than 250 workers were killed. OSHA's fall prevention campaign was developed in partnership with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and NIOSH's National Occupational Research Agenda program. More information on fall protection standards is available in English and Spanish at http://www.osha.gov/stopfalls.
S&R/Pihl has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Providence office at 401-528-4667.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
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U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.