OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
Referral prompts second inspection at same job site
OSHA PROPOSES $217,500 IN PENALTIES AGAINST FLORIDA CONSTRUCTION COMPANY FOLLOWING SAFETY, HEALTH INVESTIGATIONS
A Florida-based construction firm was cited today for the second time this year by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for knowingly exposing workers to potentially fatal fall hazards at a bridge near Elizabeth, N.J. OSHA is proposing penalties totaling $217,500.
OSHA cited Damalos & Sons, Inc., a company specializing in abrasive blasting and bridge painting, for 14 violations, including two alleged willful violations for lack of fall protection. Another alleged willful violation was issued against the company for allowing employees to leave the worksite wearing lead-contaminated clothing and not providing a functioning shower facility. Employees were preparing a bridge over the Rahway River near Elizabeth, N.J., for repainting.
"We cited this company for the same violations at the same job site in April," said OSHA Administrator Charles N. Jeffress. "Still, the owner continued to ignore repeated warnings from OSHA personnel and paint inspectors and engineers that he needed to provide fall protection. His indifference to safety regulations and his reckless disregard for the safety of his employees is intolerable. He must be held accountable."
Today's citations resulted from an investigation begun last April after OSHA received information that employees at the site were again working 40 feet over water on suspended cable work platforms without independent safety tie-off cables to protect them from potentially fatal falls. At the time of the inspection, workers were abrasive blasting the bridge to remove old paint containing lead.
Of the 14 violations cited, two were alleged willful violations for not providing personal fall arrest systems for employees working on suspended cable scaffolds. OSHA is proposing $98,000 in penalties for those violations alone. An additional alleged willful violation for not ensuring that employees who are exposed to high lead levels shower at the end of the work shift is being proposed with a penalty of $38,500. Four alleged serious citations were also issued, with $9,000 in penalties, for defective forklift trucks, respirator violations, lack of clean protective clothing, and allowing employees to eat while wearing clothing that had not been cleaned of surface lead dust.
OSHA also issued three alleged repeat violations, with proposed penalties of $72,000. Those violations included not having a life-saving boat available for employees working over water (the company was cited for this violation twice before -- in May 1998 at a work site in Decatur, Ala.. and last April at the jobsite in Elizabeth, N.J.); failure to ensure that a decontamination trailer was free of lead accumulations (previously cited for this violation in January 1998 in Paramus, N.J., and again in February 1999 in Garden City, Ga.); and finally, failure to properly maintain the OSHA 200 log (cited twice before in February 1999 in Garden City, Ga. and in Tarpon Springs, Fla. in May 1999).
Four alleged other-than-serious violations were also issued regarding respiratory protection, not labeling contaminated protective clothing and equipment, and lack of ground fault protection for the vacuum system. No penalties were proposed for the other-than-serious violations.
Damalos & Sons, Inc., based in Tarpon Springs, Fla., does bridge work throughout the eastern United States. The company employs 50 workers; six of those were working at the New Jersey bridge site. OSHA cited the company on April 25, 2000 for nine alleged willful violations for exposing workers to fall hazards at the same jobsite and proposed penalties of $456,000. The company formally contested those citations.
Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and OSHA regulations. A serious violation is 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. Repeat violations are those in which an employer has previously been cited for the same, or a substantially similar, violation, and which has become a final order and not under contest.
Damalos & Sons, Inc. has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
This news release text is on the Internet World Wide Web at http://www.osha.gov. Information on this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 693-1999.
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