Sept. 30, 2015 BOS 2015-181
Judge upholds OSHA citations and $181K penalties for contractors whose
employees worked near energized power lines on Long Island
Date of action: Sept. 16, 2015
Type of action: Decision and Order
Name of defendant: Masonry Services Inc. dba MSI / North Eastern Precast LLC
Background: The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the two employers in June 2013 for a variety of hazardous conditions at a construction worksite located at 14 Brooklyn Ave. in Valley Stream, New York. These included willful violations for electrocution hazards for employees performing masonry and crane work in close proximity to energized 13,200-volt overhead power lines; serious citations involving cranes, personal protective equipment and power lines; and a repeated violation for unguarded rebar. The companies contested their citations to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission; a hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge Keith E. Bell in October 2014. Before the hearing, all parties agreed that the two companies should be treated as a single employer and their citations and penalties consolidated due to their overlapping ownership and their working at the same site.
Resolution: Judge Bell has issued a decision affirming all citations and ordering the companies to pay a total of $181,280 in penalties. The judge agreed with the Labor Department's assertion that the companies had willfully continued with hazardous work activities near the power lines in disregard of specific warnings from OSHA and the Long Island Power Authority. Vordonia Contracting and Supplies, the project's general contractor, was cited for similar hazards but settled its case in 2014, agreeing to pay $110,000 in fines.
Quote: "We said at the time that these hazards should not have existed in the first place. This decision upholds our findings and shows that deliberate disregard of employees' safety and health by their employers is unacceptable," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.
"This decision should remind employers that there are consequences for their actions when they neglect their responsibility to provide safe working conditions for their employees. The Labor Department can and will vigorously seek appropriate redress," said Jeffrey Rogoff, regional solicitor of labor in New York.
The inspections were conducted by OSHA's Long Island Area Office. The case was litigated by attorneys Daniel Hennefeld and Alex Kondo of the department's Regional Office of the Solicitor in New York.
Court: U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission
Docket Number: 13-1169 & 13-1170
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Media Contact: Ted Fitzgerald, 617-565-2075, firstname.lastname@example.org
Release Number: 15-1916-NEW
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