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$42,000 in Fines Proposed against Modern Continental Construction Co.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Labor Department has cited Modern Continental Construction Co., a Cambridge, Massachusetts, contractor working on the Charles River Crossing bridge project, for alleged Repeat and Serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act following an April 8, 1999, fall which seriously injured a worker. OSHA has proposed $42,000 in fines against the company.
According to Brenda J. Gordon, OSHA area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts, the alleged violations concern inadequate fall protection for workers who were installing precast concrete sections as part of a ramp that will eventually lead to the completed Charles River Crossing bridge.
Two large concrete segments were suspended from a gantry crane almost 15 feet above the ground. Modern Continental employees were using one ladder to access the first segment from a steel work platform and another ladder to bridge the gap between the two suspended segments. On April 8, a Modern Continental ironworker sustained serious injuries when he fell almost 15 feet to the ground while using the second ladder to move between the first and second segments.
"The inspection found that neither ladder had been lashed down or otherwise secured against possible displacement, thus exposing these workers to falls such as the one that occurred," said Gordon. "Additional hazards were posed by the lack of fall protection at the ends of the suspended concrete segment and on the unprotected edges of a steel work platform. Fall protection could have been provided at all these locations by the use of guardrails, but none were in place or in use at the time of the accident."
Gordon noted that the fine proposed in this case reflects the fact that Modern Continental had been cited by OSHA in January 1998, for inadequate fall protection at another Boston jobsite.
Specifically, the citations and proposed penalties encompass:
One alleged Repeat violation, with a proposed penalty of $35,000, for:
employees exposed to falls of from nine to 14 feet from an unprotected steel work platform and the unprotected ends of a suspended precast concrete segment. [Modern Continental had previously been cited for a violation of this safety standard or its equivalent on January 23, 1998, following an inspection at a Boston, Mass., worksite].
One alleged Serious violation, with a proposed penalty of $7,000, for: employees exposed to falls while using unsecured ladders to access and move between suspended precast concrete segments.
Gordon noted that OSHA recently launched a special emphasis program aimed at reducing fatal fall hazards in New England through a combination of targeted enforcement and education activity designed to help employers and workers identify and eliminate fall hazards both in construction, where falls are the leading cause of death, and in general industry, where fall hazards may not be as obvious. The program's four major components combine outreach efforts, compliance assistance, an increased emphasis on identifying and addressing fall hazards during general industry inspections and targeted inspections of workplaces where fall hazards are observed.
She urged Bay State employers and employees with questions regarding fall protection or any other OSHA workplace safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area offices in Braintree (617-565-6924), Methuen (617-565-8110) or Springfield (413-785-0123) for information and assistance.
Separately, she reminded employers and workers that OSHA's toll-free, nationwide hotline --1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742)-- may be used to report workplace accidents or fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially if they occur outside of normal business hours.
A serious violation is defined by OSHA as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard. A repeat citation is issued when an employer has been cited for a substantially similar violation as the result of a prior OSHA inspection and that earlier citation has become final.
OSHA is empowered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to issue standards and rules requiring employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces and jobsites, and to assure through workplace inspections that those standards are followed.
The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (617) 565-2072. TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) Message Referral Phone: 800-347-8029.
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