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Region2 News Release: NY 140
April 27, 2000
Contact: Chester J. Fultz
Referral prompts inspection at New Jersey bridge
OSHA CITES FLORIDA CONSTRUCTION COMPANY FOR EXPOSING WORKERS TO POTENTIAL FATAL FALLS; PROPOSES PENALTIES OF $456,000
A Florida-based construction firm was cited today by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for knowingly exposing workers to potentially fatal fall hazards at a New Jersey Turnpike bridge.
OSHA cited Damalos & Sons, Inc., a company specializing in sandblasting and bridge painting, for 14 violations, including nine alleged willful violations for lack of fall protection. Employees were preparing a bridge over the Rahway River near Elizabeth, N.J. for repainting. OSHA is proposing that the company pay $456,000 in penalties.
"The owner of this company is well aware of OSHA's fall protection standards," said OSHA Administrator Charles N. Jeffress. "He was notified by OSHA personnel and consultants hired by the New Jersey Turnpike that he needed to provide fall protection, but he would not comply. His indifference to safety regulations and his reckless disregard for the safety of his employees is intolerable. The action we're taking today is more than justified."
Today's citations resulted from an investigation begun last December after OSHA received information that employees at the site were working 40 feet over water on suspended cable work platforms without safety harnesses and lanyards to protect them from potentially fatal falls. At the time of the inspection, the employer was erecting scaffolding for the planned bridge work.
Of the 14 violations cited, nine were alleged willful violations for not providing personal fall arrest systems for employees working on suspended cable scaffolds. OSHA is proposing $441,000 in penalties for those violations alone. Four alleged serious citations were also issued, with $9,000 in penalties, citing fall protection, scaffolding and highway barricade violations. Finally, OSHA issued one alleged repeat violation, with a proposed penalty of $6,000, for not having a life-saving boat available for employees working over water (the company was previously cited for the same violation in May 1998 at a worksite in Decatur, Ala.).
Damalos & Sons, Inc. is based in Tarpon Springs, Fla. and does bridge work throughout the eastern United States. The company employs 50 workers; 13 of those are working at the New Jersey bridge site.
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.
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