Region 6 News Release: USDL-OSHA-99-40-4-2
Friday, April 2, 1999
Contact: Diana Petterson or Beverly Sepulveda
PHONE : 214) 767-4776, ext. 222 or 221
OSHA PROPOSES $517,000 IN PENALTIES AGAINST THREE CONTRACTORS AT A TEXAS APARTMENT CONSTRUCTION SITE
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited three contractors for safety violations at a construction site at 8359 Harwood Road in North Richland Hills, Texas, and has proposed penalties totaling $517,600, announced the U.S. Department of Labor.
Norstar Building Corp., the prime contractor for the apartment construction site, is the Dallas subsidiary of Norstar U.S.A. Ltd. whose parent company is headquartered in Toronto, Canada. Norstar was cited for $128,800 in proposed penalties. Pyramid Framing Contractor Inc., a subcontractor based in Mesquite, and was cited for $199,200. Cornerstone Masonry, a subcontractor based in Fort Worth, was cited for $189,600. North Richland Hills is a suburb of Fort Worth, Texas.
The alleged violations were discovered during an unscheduled inspection on Nov. 2, 1998 when bricklayers and framers were working on scaffolds and steep roofs with no fall protection. OSHA's standards require that fall protection be provided for employees working on a scaffold over 10 feet in height and for employees working on a steep roof where a fall of six feet or more could occur. OSHA advised employers of the violations, but when OSHA investigators returned to the site on Jan. 2, they found that the company had failed to comply and found additional violations.
On Jan. 26, compliance officers observed a bricklayer working on a scaffold without fall protection. Norstar was informed that any further observations of employees working without fall protection would result in the issuance an imminent danger notice, and that OSHA would seek a restraining order against the construction site until the unsafe conditions were corrected.
Norstar was cited for 13 serious violations, Cornerstone was cited for 11 serious violations and Pyramid was cited for 12 serious and two repeated violations of OSHA safety standards.
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. A repeated violation is one in which the employer has been cited previously for a substantially similar condition. In addition, each of the companies were cited for four willful violations of safety standards.
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. OSHA issues willful violations when it believes the employer knew what specific safeguards were required to protect workers yet apparently elected not to provide them.
The Fort Worth OSHA office has developed a local emphasis program to address unsafe construction work sites. The program sends compliance officers to actively patrol areas of construction activity looking for obvious fall and safety hazards. "There's been a significant increase in construction workplace fatalities in the Fort Worth area," said Dean Wingo, OSHA Fort Worth area director. "There were nine construction workers killed in calendar year 1997 compared to 19 construction-related deaths in calendar year 1998." Construction related falls from heights continue to be the leading cause of workplace fatalities in the Fort Worth OSHA area.
Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards can call the nearest OSHA office. OSHA's toll-free hotline may be used to report workplace accidents, fatalities, or situations posing imminent danger to workers. The number is 1-800-321-6742.
Norstar, Pyramid, and Cornerstone have 15 working days, from receipt of the citations, to comply or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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