Tues., Feb. 19, 2008
Contact: John M. Chavez Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: 617-565-2075 617-565-2074
Nearly $465,000 in fines proposed against two contractors following fatal fire
NEW YORK -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Bovis Lend Lease and John Galt Corp. for 44 alleged violations of workplace safety and health standards at the former Deutsche Bank headquarters located at 130 Liberty St. in Manhattan.
The two contractors, who were responsible for demolition and asbestos abatement work on the building, were cited following an Aug. 18, 2007, fire which took the lives of two New York City firefighters.
"Construction and demolition sites must be kept safe at all times for both employees and emergency responders," said Louis Ricca Jr., OSHA's acting regional administrator in New York.
"Employers must adhere to safety and health standards, and prepare completely and effectively for workplace emergencies," said Richard Mendelson, OSHA's area director in Manhattan. "Failure to do so can - and, in this case - did cost lives."
OSHA's citations address fire-related hazards, including a missing section of the standpipe system and insufficient water pressure and water supply for fighting fires inside the tower. Citations also include numerous safety hazards that exposed employees to death or serious injury from falls, falling objects, electrocution, and the inability to exit the tower swiftly and safely in the event of a fire or other emergency.
As a result of its inspection, OSHA cited both Bovis and Galt for the following hazards:
- Failing to inspect and maintain firefighting equipment to ensure that the standpipe system was operational, and that sufficient water supply and water pressure were available for firefighting.
- Obstructed emergency exit access (including sealed emergency stairwells, emergency stairwells blocked by construction and unlighted stairwells).
- Inadequate emergency escape procedures.
- Unmarked exits.
- Lack of fire extinguishers, emergency alarm procedures and fire cutoffs.
- Failing to develop and follow a fire protection program.
- Smoking permitted in work areas.
- Temporary structures inside the building made of combustible materials.
- Scaffolds erected too close to power lines.
- Unprotected sides and edges of work areas, unprotected floor openings, missing or broken guardrails, and missing stair rails.
- Exposed live electrical parts, electric panel boards in wet locations and other electrical hazards.
Previous OSHA inspections at the jobsite had resulted in Galt being fined $88,500 for 26 violations and Bovis being fined $18,000 for five violations.
Mendelson noted that the size of the fines currently proposed against Bovis and Galt reflects the scope and severity of the cited conditions and the classification of several of the citations as willful, the most severe category of citation. Each of the willful citations carries a proposed penalty of $70,000, the maximum allowed under the law.
Paradise Energy Electrical Contractors Inc., an electrical subcontractor, also was issued five serious citations, with $6,250 in proposed fines, for a scaffold erected too close to a power line and other electrical hazards.
OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health. The agency issues a serious citation when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
"OSHA will continue to work with other regulatory agencies overseeing this project to identify and address safety and health concerns prior to and after resumption of demolition and remediation operations," said Mendelson.
Each company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to request and participate in an informal conference with OSHA or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Manhattan Area Office (telephone 212-620-3200).
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, private sector and federal employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure 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.
U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.