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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

OSHA Fines Concrete Systems Inc $52K for Exposing Workers to Hazardous Falls

Concrete and masonry company Concrete Systems Inc. has been cited for one repeat and seven serious safety hazards following a February investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA investigators opened the inspection after observing workers constructing formwork without fall protection at the construction site of three midrise buildings at 300 Glenwood Ave. in Bloomfield, New Jersey. The investigation was also initiated as part of the agency's local emphasis program* on fall hazards in construction. The proposed penalties for these violations total $52,470.

"Concrete Systems Inc. was previously cited twice for exposing workers to fall and other safety and health hazards at work sites in Kearny and Cranford, New Jersey," said Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA's Parsippany Area Office. "Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. It is imperative that this company immediately implement an effective fall protection program to ensure the safety of its employees."

The repeat hazard, with a $13,860 penalty, was cited because employees were exposed to a 25-foot fall hazard without the proper protection. The company was previously cited for the same violation in 2012. A repeat violation exists 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.

The serious violations, carrying a $38,610 penalty, were cited almost entirely for violations of fall safety standards. Employees were exposed to fall hazards of up to 25 feet while accessing scaffold platforms without using a ladder. Employees were exposed to fall hazards in excess of 16 feet or 25 feet without the proper fall protection while working from scaffolding. In addition, the company failed to ensure employees were properly tied off on boom lifts and to adequate anchorage points. Concrete Systems also failed to properly train workers on the use of fall protection equipment.

Employees were also exposed to impalement hazards due to rebar ends that were not properly guarded. A serious citation is issued 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.

OSHA has created a Stop Falls Web page with detailed information in English and Spanish on fall protection standards. The page offers fact sheets, posters and videos that vividly illustrate various fall hazards and appropriate preventive measures.

Concrete Systems, based in Stirling, has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, ask for an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. 
Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  1.973.696.7900  have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.