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Trade News Release
Tuesday, April 20, 1999
Contact: Bill Wright (202) 693-1999
Company president and assistant superintendent personally cited
OSHA CITES NEW JERSEY CONSTRUCTION COMPANY FOR SAFETY VIOLATIONS RELATED TO FALL PROTECTION; PROPOSES FINES OF $424,000
Construction workers exposed to numerous safety hazards, including plummeting from 150 feet because of no fall protection, has prompted the Occupational Safety and Health Administration today to propose fines of $424,000 against the owners of a New Jersey construction company.
OSHA cited Avcon, Inc., a Westwood, N.J. firm specializing in concrete work, for fifteen alleged violations, including eight alleged willful violations related to the lack of fall protection, unguarded floor openings and failure to provide head protection, during the construction of a 16-story apartment building.
The alleged citations were issued against the company in general, and, individually to the company's president, Vasilios (Bill) Saites, and his on-site assistant superintendent, Nicholas (Nick) Saites. Also cited was Altor, Inc., a New Jersey concrete contractor who subcontracted the work to Avcon to complete the project.
"This is an example of a company that just doesn't get it," said Charles Jeffress, OSHA Administrator. "In their brief two-year history, Avcon has had two projects, both of which were the subject of OSHA inspections. Citations alleging similar fall protection violations were issued as a result of both inspections.
"Their cavalier attitude toward worker safety and health is dangerous and will not be tolerated. The citations we've issued today are meant to ensure that tragedy is avoided."
Avcon, Inc., established in April 1997, employs approximately 70 workers. In April 1998, OSHA issued citations to the company alleging similar fall protection violations with a total proposed penalty of $134,000. That case is currently pending litigation.
OSHA's inspection which prompted today's citations was in response to telephone complaints received from employees working at the job site last October. The project was a 16-story poured concrete apartment building in Edgewater, N.J. The complainants alleged a lack of fall protection, unguarded floor openings, hard hat violations, and a lack of debris nets. The subsequent inspection validated the complaints. Further, the inspection revealed only a single 24-inch high rail located on the uppermost floor of the building for fall protection. Current standards require a 42-inch high railing with a midrail.
Six of the eight alleged willful violations are being proposed as "instance-by-instance" carrying penalties of $56,000 each, and address lack of fall protection on separate floors. Two additional alleged willful violations relate to unguarded floor openings and failure to wear head protection. The total penalty for all eight alleged willful violations is $412,000.
Avcon was also cited for six alleged serious violations, totaling $12,000, for an inadequate safety and health program, failure to clear scrap lumber and debris from work areas, unsafe material storage, no protection from falling debris, lack of ground fault circuit interrupter protection, and improper use of a safety belt as part of a personal fall arrest system. Finally, one alleged other-than-serious violation, with no penalty, was issued addressing non-availability of a shoring layout plan.
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 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.
The company 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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