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Region 2 News Release: 11-668-NEW/BOS 2011-173
May 11, 2011
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: 617-565-2074
Email: fitzgerald.edmund@dol.gov

US Labor Department's OSHA cites US Virgin Islands contractor for
exposing workers to fall and scaffold hazards at St. Thomas work site
GEC LLC faces more than $62,000 in fines for repeat and serious violations

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited GEC LLC for eight violations of workplace safety standards for exposing workers to fall and scaffold hazards at a residential construction work site located in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The St. Thomas contractor faces a total of $62,617 in proposed fines.

OSHA initiated its inspection in November 2010 as part of its local emphasis program focused on fall hazards in the construction industry after workers were observed exposed to fall hazards of up to 20 feet while constructing a roof.

"There is no excuse for employees to be exposed to fall hazards such as these," said Jos A. Carpena, OSHA's area director in Puerto Rico. "Any time construction workers are at a height of 6 feet or more, appropriate and effective fall protection must be used. Otherwise, they face the risk of a deadly or disabling fall."

Two repeat violations with $23,760 in fines include failing to fully plank scaffolds, and ensure scaffolds rested on base plates and mud sills. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. GEC previously was cited for similar hazards in May 2008 at a St. Thomas work site.

Six serious violations with $38,857 in fines include failing to provide an access ladder, inspect the scaffold before each work shift, replace damaged scaffold deck sections, maintain the minimum distance for scaffolds from power lines, and provide fall protection systems for employees working from a scaffold and from the top section of a wall. 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.

"Falls are one of the leading causes of traumatic occupational deaths," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York. "One means of addressing this hazard is through an illness and injury prevention program in which employers and employees work jointly to identify and eliminate hazards."

Detailed information on scaffold hazards and safe work practices, including an interactive e-tool, is available online at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/scaffolding/index.html.

GEC LLC 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 Puerto Rico Area Office; telephone 787-277-1560. 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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