N.Y. Apartment Complex Cited for Exposing Workers to Raw Sewage, Asbestos

"Our inspections found maintenance workers exposed to a variety of health and safety hazards while performing their duties, including stripping paint, removing drywall, and clearing basements of raw sewage that had backed up during heavy rains," said Kay Gee, OSHA's Manhattan area director.

OSHA has cited Renaissance Equity Holdings for 20 alleged violations of workplace safety and health standards affecting maintenance workers at the Flatbush Gardens apartment complex in Brooklyn, N.Y. The property management company faces a total of $51,100 in proposed fines following OSHA inspections conducted in response to employee complaints.

"Our inspections found maintenance workers exposed to a variety of health and safety hazards while performing their duties, including stripping paint, removing drywall, and clearing basements of raw sewage that had backed up during heavy rains," said Kay Gee, OSHA's Manhattan area director. "The violations uncovered are basic safety and health issues that should have been addressed and were not. We expect thorough, effective, and expeditious corrective action."

OSHA found that Renaissance Equity Holdings failed to keep basements clear of raw sewage; provide protective equipment such as waders to employees required to enter those basements; determine the presence of and inform employees about asbestos contained in pipe insulation; provide employees with asbestos awareness training; conduct an exposure assessment for lead; train workers involved in stripping paint and replacing drywall about lead hazards; guard basement windows to prevent the entry of rodents and vermin; and have a hazard communication program and training to inform employees about the hazardous chemicals with which they work. Additional violations included a broken stepladder, uncovered floor holes, and several electrical hazards. These conditions resulted in the issuance of 16 serious citations with $48,300 in fines.

The company also was issued four other-than-serious citations, with $2,800 in fines, for failing to accurately record all on-the-job injuries and illnesses.

"One means of preventing hazards such as these is for employers to establish an injury and illness prevention program through which workers and management jointly work to identify and eliminate hazardous conditions on a continual basis," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

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