Four Contractors, $463,350 in Fines

Allegedly willful violations of fall hazards were the cause of $315,000 of the penalties OSHA filed against two concrete contractors for a Jersey City, N.J. site.

OSHA announced it has cited four New Jersey contractors working on a 20-story building in Jersey City, N.J., and proposed $463,350 in total files for allegedly exposing workers to fall hazards. Inspectors in December 2011 saw employees working on the fourth floor without personal fall protection or fall protection systems. The firms are Altura Concrete Inc. and Nathil Corp., both of Hasbrouck Heights; and White Diamonds Properties LLC and Blade Contracting Inc., both of Jersey City.

"Year after year, falls remain the leading cause of death in the construction industry, accounting for almost one in every three construction worker deaths," said Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. "We know how to prevent falls, and employers have a clear responsibility to provide the right equipment and procedures. When working at heights, everyone needs to plan ahead to get the job done safely, provide the right equipment, and train workers to use the equipment safely. OSHA’s message is simple: Safety pays and falls cost."

Altura Concrete and Nathil Corp. are concrete contractors for the foundation and superstructure of the building with a combined 75 employees on site, according to OSHA. They were cited for five willful violations, with $315,000 in penalties, including four instance-by-instance (egregious) violations -‒ for failing to protect workers from fall hazards created by open sides and edges on the fourth, sixth, seventh, eighth, 10th, and 13th floors, and for fall hazards created by the misuse of self-supporting stepladders.

These two companies also received citations for nine serious violations, with $40,500 in penalties, concerning PPE, storing cylinders in an upright position and separating oxygen and acetylene tanks, providing protection from protruding rebar, open holes, and unmarked/unsecured floor hole covers. One other-than-serious violation has been cited for failing to record an injury on the OSHA 300 log. The citation carries a $900 penalty. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

General contractor White Diamonds Properties, with seven employees on site, received citations for two willful violations of fall protection standards and five serious violations related to improper storage of compressed gas cylinders, unprotected rebar, and failing to have drawings for shoring/reshoring on site. The company faces $95,400 in penalties.

Masonry contractor Blade Contracting, with 21 employees on site, received three serious violations and $11,500 in penalties for failing to protect workers from fall hazards, properly use a scaffold, or inspect scaffold components for defects.

"A project of this magnitude clearly needs an aggressive injury and illness prevention plan in place to prevent falls and other hazards," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York. "When management and workers together proactively identify and eliminate hazardous conditions, workers are better protected."

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