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Region 2 News Release: 11-360-NEW/BOS 2011-101
March 22, 2011
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: 617-565-2074
E-mail: fitzgerald.edmund@dol.gov

US Labor Department's OSHA cites New York City social service agency
after employee falls from Wards Island shelter roof
Volunteers of America-Greater New York Inc. faces $63,000 in fines

NEW YORK – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Volunteers of America–Greater New York Inc. for 12 alleged serious violations of workplace safety and health standards at its shelter facility and related administrative offices on Wards Island in New York City. The social service agency faces a total of $63,000 in proposed fines following OSHA inspections conducted after an employee fell while closing a rooftop skylight.

"The citations address various fall, electrical, chemical and exit access hazards encountered by maintenance, housekeeping and kitchen workers in the course of their duties," said Kay Gee, OSHA's Manhattan area director. "It's vital that this employer take prompt and effective action to identify and eliminate all of these hazards and prevent them from occurring again."

OSHA found that maintenance employees whose duties involved opening and closing rooftop skylights were exposed to falls due to the lack of access stairs between flat and sloped roofs atop the building. Other hazards identified during OSHA's inspections included a too-narrow emergency exit aisle in the boiler room; inadequately maintained exit doors and an emergency stairway; unmounted, uncharged and uninspected fire extinguishers; no written chemical hazard communication program for employees working with hazardous chemicals; no workplace hazard assessment to determine the need for personal protective equipment; and electrical hazards from frayed power cords, ungrounded electrical equipment and failing to de-energize a live electrical circuit before working on it.

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.

"One means of preventing hazards such as these is for employers to establish an injury and illness prevention program through which workers and management jointly work to identify and eliminate hazardous conditions on a continual basis," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

The employer has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Manhattan Area Office; telephone 212-620-3200. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).

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, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.


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