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Saturday, February 19, 2011

OSHA Fines NJ Contractor $45,450 For Safety Violations

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the general contractor for the Sheridan Avenue Steam Plant renovation project in Albany for repeat and serious violations of safety standards. Plato Construction Corp. of Hopewell, N.J., faces a total of $45,540 in proposed fines, chiefly for scaffold and fall hazards.

"Falls are among the deadliest hazards in construction. They can end a life or a career in seconds," said Edward Jerome, OSHA's area director in Albany. "Proper scaffold erection, safe work practices and effective fall protection are critical in protecting workers against this potentially deadly hazard."

OSHA found employees exposed to fall hazards ranging from 27 to 41 feet while working without fall protection on a scaffold that was not fully guarded, climbing atop the scaffold's guardrails and standing on an empty plastic bucket on the scaffold's deck. The agency has alleged that scaffold's tiebacks were not anchored securely, its pulley block was damaged, and it had not been erected by a competent person. Other hazards included an electrical panel box that was not protected against water, a power cord that lacked strain relief, an unguarded grinder blade and a damaged power cord with exposed wiring.

OSHA issued Plato Construction Corp. two repeat citations with $13,200 in proposed fines for the lack of scaffold fall protection and the damaged power cord, and nine serious citations with $32,340 in fines for the remaining items. OSHA issues a serious citation when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. The repeat citations stem from OSHA's having cited the company in December 2006 for similar hazards at a Philadelphia, Pa., worksite. A repeat citation is issued when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

"One means of eliminating recurring hazards such as these is for employers to establish an injury and illness prevention program in which workers and management work together to continually eliminate hazardous conditions," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.