A picture of a construction worker welding together steel beams from high above the ground.

OSHA Task Force: Fall Hazards No. 1 Violation at NY Construction Sites

Fall hazards were the most frequently cited violation found at New York City construction sites by OSHA during a two-week enhanced enforcement effort this past summer. As part of its New York City construction safety task force, the agency detailed 12 inspectors to conduct 96 safety inspections at 46 construction sites throughout the city from June 23 to July 3. The sites were randomly selected to encompass a cross-section of high-risk construction activities including tower cranes, high-rise construction, poured-in-place concrete operations, steel erection, gut-rehab, and other high-risk construction activities.

Citations were issued to 60 contractors for 129 violations with a total of $247,400 in proposed fines during the period. The major categories of violations cited included fall hazards (39), electrical safety (29), scaffolds (17), cranes and rigging (13), welding/gas (10), and 20 other categories covering personal protective equipment, tools, material handling, concrete, hoists, stairs and ladders.

"These violations are consistent with the types of hazards we find on far too many jobsites and cannot be written off as the inevitable by-products of an inherently dangerous profession," said Richard Mendelson, OSHA's area director in Manhattan. "OSHA will use this information to further hone its inspection targeting, so we can direct our resources to those areas where we can have the most impact."

On Aug. 7, OSHA conducted a construction stakeholder safety meeting with industry representatives in which the agency analyzed trends in construction safety violations and recommended that all parties involved in New York City construction work to "raise the bar" on safety. OSHA says the meeting and the task force are among several agency efforts planned or underway to enhance construction safety in the city. These include an ongoing cross-training alliance with the New York City Department of Buildings and sending copies of citations to project owners, developers, employers' insurers, workers' compensation carriers, and union training funds to raise awareness of occupational hazards found on city jobsites. In addition, OSHA will conduct a second round of concentrated construction inspections in the future.

"These findings reinforce the need for all parties--employers, developers, building trades, unions, and employees--to work aggressively, effectively, and continuously to minimize construction hazards," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York. "An effective approach is implementing and maintaining an effective safety and health management system through which employers and employees work together to identify and eliminate work-related hazards."

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