Region 1 News Release: BOS 99-191
Monday, October 18, 1999
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
PHONE: (617) 565-2074
OSHA CITES CONTRACTOR AT MERIDEN, CONNECTICUT, CONSTRUCTION SITE FOR ALLEGED WILLFUL, SERIOUS AND REPEAT SAFETY VIOLATIONS INVOLVING INADEQUATE FALL PROTECTION
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Labor Department has cited RAC Construction Corp., a Woodbridge, Connecticut, contractor, for alleged Willful, Serious and Repeat violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and has proposed penalties totaling $40,500.
According to Clifford S. Weston, OSHA area director in Bridgeport, the alleged violations were discovered during an inspection conducted between September 13 and 21, 1999, at a school construction project located at 1355 North Broad Street in Meriden, Conn., and chiefly concern inadequate fall protection for employees. RAC Construction is engaged in the construction of a three-story school building and had about 60 employees on the job at the time of the inspection.
"The inspection found employees exposed to fall hazards throughout the jobsite," said Weston. "In particular, workers risked falls from the building's first and second floors and its roof areas due to missing or inadequate guardrails at large wall openings. An additional fall hazard stemmed from the employer's failure to barricade or fence off a six-to-nine foot deep trench that ran 175 feet along the west side of the building."
Weston emphasized the importance of fall protection for workers by noting that falls are the leading cause of death in construction. Last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 28 workers in New England fell to their deaths while on the job in 1998.
"The fact that no fatal or serious falls occurred on this job in no way relieves the employer of the responsibility of providing and ensuring effective fall protection where required," said Weston. "It shouldn't take an OSHA inspection and the possibility of large penalties to compel an employer to supply this basic, required, common sense safeguard for workers."
Specifically, the citations and proposed penalties encompass:
- One alleged Willful violation, with a proposed penalty of $33,000, for:
- employees exposed to falls into a six-to-nine foot deep, 175-foot long excavation that was not fenced or barricaded;
- Two alleged Repeat violations, with proposed penalties of $6,000, for:
- fourteen instances where employees were exposed to falls of more than six feet from numerous wall openings on the first and second floor that were not provided with top rails; [The employer had previously been cited for OSHA for a substantially similar violation in a citation issued June 23, 1998, following an inspection at a Derby, Conn., worksite]
- employees exposed to falls of up to 30 feet through a floor opening which lacked a midrail; [The employer had previously been cited for OSHA for a substantially similar violation in a citation issued July 1, 1998, following an inspection at a Danbury, Conn., worksite].
- One alleged Serious violation, with a proposed penalty of $1,500, for:
- ten instances of wire rope guardrails on the first and second floors and roof area that were inadequate in that they were insufficiently taut to prevent employee falls when pushed in a downward direction; wire rope guardrails on the first and second floors and the roof area were not flagged with highly visible material.
Weston urged Connecticut employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area offices in Bridgeport or Hartford and added 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 willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations. A serious violation is defined 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 repeated violation is defined by OSHA as one where, upon reinspection, a substantially similar violation is found.
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.