Region 2 News Release: 11-883-NEW / BOS 2011-205
June 14, 2011
Contact: John M. Chavez
US Labor Department's OSHA cites 3 Queens, NY, contractors for safety
hazards following construction site fatality in Elmhurst, NY
NEW YORK – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Sing Da Corp., H Rock Corp. and Vera Construction Inc. for alleged willful, repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards following the agency's investigation of a Jan. 10 fatality that occurred on a construction site located at 84-16/18 Queens Blvd. in Elmhurst.
OSHA's investigation found that, at the time of the incident, employees were filling an 18-foot-high by 65-foot-long concrete block wall with cement when the wall collapsed, killing one employee and hospitalizing three others. These workers were employees of Sing Da Corp., which does business as Chung Hing Co.
"This was a tragic incident that could have been avoided by taking the simple and obvious precaution of bracing the block wall before trying to fill it with cement," said Kay Gee, OSHA's area director in Manhattan.
Sing Da Corp. was cited for one willful violation carrying a proposed fine of $42,000 for failing to brace the block wall. The company also was cited for five serious violations with proposed penalties of $21,000 for various scaffold-related safety hazards.
H Rock Corp. was cited for three serious violations related to scaffold safety and not bracing the concrete wall, as well as for three serious violations related to unguarded floor holes, lack of head protection and lack of a safety program. Proposed penalties total $38,000.
Vera Construction Inc. was cited for three serious violations with $8,580 in penalties for unguarded floor holes, not having caps on reinforcing steel and not having a safety program. Two repeat violations with fines of $6,732 also were cited for hazard communication failures and a lack of hard hats. The company received similar citations in 2008 and 2009.
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. 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. 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.
Proposed penalties for the three employers total $116,312. The companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with the OSHA area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. This inspection was conducted by OSHA's Queens District Office; telephone 718-279-9060. 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.
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.