Worker's Fall at NY Worksite Prompts Investigation, Citations

OSHA has proposed $72,000 in fines against Sorbara Construction, a Lynnbrook, N.Y., concrete contractor, for alleged repeat and serious violations of safety standards after a worker fell at a New York City worksite.

On March 20, a worker fell 10 feet from the 34th to the 33rd floor of a building under construction at 505 West 37th Street after dislodging the unsecured cover of a floor hole. OSHA's inspection identified several fall-related hazards including inadequate fall protection, unsecured and unmarked floor hole covers, a personal fall arrest system rigged so a worker could fall more than six feet, and failure to retrain workers to ensure they recognize such hazards. OSHA also found an ungrounded power tool, uncovered electrical outlet, and discharged fire extinguishers.

"While it's fortunate that this worker was not killed, falls remain the number one killer in construction work," said Kay Gee, OSHA's acting area director in Manhattan. "One wrong step can end a worker's career or life. We want to emphasize to all contractors the importance of supplying effective fall protection safeguards and training to their workers."

OSHA issued the construction firm three repeat citations, with $62,500 in proposed fines, for the lack of fall protection and training and the ungrounded power tool, as the contractor had been cited by OSHA in November 2008 for similar hazards at a worksite elsewhere in Manhattan. The company also received four serious citations, with $9,500 in fines, for the remaining hazards. Serious citations are issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.

Sorbara has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA, or contest these items before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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