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OSHA Cites Company in NYC Crane Collapse

OSHA announced Jan. 7 that it has cited Western Waterproofing Co. Inc., doing business as Western Specialty Contractors, for exposing employees to serious injuries at a New York City construction site. The St. Louis, Mo.-based contractor faces $155,204 in proposed penalties.

The incident occurred June 25, 2018, when an unsecured mini crane overturned and fell four stories at an East 125th Street site. OSHA has cited Western for not ensuring that the employee assigned to operate the crane was trained, evaluated, and determined competent to operate the equipment; for operating the crane in excess of its rated lifting capacity; and for not verifying that the load being lifted was within the crane's rated lifting capacity.

"This employer knowingly put workers at risk by failing to ensure that the crane was operated by a competent person," said Kay Gee, OSHA's Manhattan Area Office Director. "Effective training of employees, knowledge of equipment’s limits, and correct operation of equipment are critical to preventing injuries."

On Nov. 8, 2018, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., New York City Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick D. Chandler, and members of the Construction Fraud Task Force announced criminal charges, including Assault in the Second Degree, against site supervisor Terrence Edwards, 39, and Western Waterproofing branch manager Timothy Braico, 41, for their roles in the collapse, which injured two ironworkers.

"158,000 New Yorkers now make up our city's construction workforce," Vance said then. "It's these workers who build and grow our city, and it's these workers who pay the price when construction supervisors cut corners in order to build faster. In doing so, they not only endanger the lives of their workers, but the lives of the pedestrians and cyclists that live and work around these sites every day. As alleged in this case, these defendants knowingly skirted DOB safety protocols to speed up their project, resulting in devastating, life-changing injuries for two workers when a mini crane fell from the fourth floor, catapulting one as it hurtled to the ground. As the use of these remotely operated, lightweight cranes continues to grow, contractors must ensure their workers are trained and their plans are DOB-approved, and always make sure these dangerous pieces of equipment are securely tethered. Those who fail to follow building regulations and recklessly kill or maim their workers will be criminally prosecuted."

Chandler, PE, said incident "was one of the most appalling safety lapses in recent memory. The supervisors of this site were supposed to be responsible for safety, but instead they set in motion a reckless and potentially lethal chain of events. Their callous disregard for safety rules, combined with a wildly overtaxed mini crane, nearly cost several workers their lives. I thank District Attorney Vance and our partners at the Department of Investigation, with whom we worked closely on this investigation. This multi-agency effort reflects the city’s commitment to use all the tools at our disposal to protect construction workers and the public."

Western Waterproofing cooperated in the investigation and subsequently entered into a Deferred Prosecution Agreement, in which the company agreed to retain an independent monitor, enhance safety training for its workers, and fund public service announcements in English and Spanish to educate workers around New York about their right to a safe workplace.

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