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Monday, October 16, 2023

Wayne NJ Contractor Fined $180K for Exposing Workers to Energized Power Lines

The U.S. Department of Labor has entered into a settlement agreement with a New Jersey building contractor who allowed their subcontractors' employees to work in close proximity to high-voltage power lines at a Paterson work site in 2021 and 2022.

The litigation followed inspections by the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the Fall of 2021 and in the Spring of 2022 that found Litana Development Inc. of Wayne was allowing workers employed by four subcontractors - Prata Construction LLC of Denville, Konopka Construction Inc. of Hillside, Freitas Construction LLC of Carteret, and Elite Brothers Construction LLC of Paterson — to be exposed to potentially deadly electrical hazards.

In its 2021 inspection, OSHA found that Litana Development Inc., acting as the general contractor, permitted workers to erect scaffolds and work between five and seven feet from live power lines. OSHA issued two willful citations to Litana and two willful citations to subcontractors. Inspectors returned on multiple occasions in 2022 and found workers again exposed to the same hazards.

OSHA then posted an imminent danger notice, and the department's Office of the Solicitor obtained a temporary restraining order in federal court, and, subsequently, a consent injunction, in which Litana and its subcontractors were ordered by the court to stop all work within 11 feet of the power lines. The agency then issued Litana Development three more willful citations for the 2022 violations. Ultimately, to continue construction and remove the workers from the hazard, the company had the power lines moved across the street.

"This case came about because the employer chose to start working without regard to protecting their workers," said OSHA Regional Administrator Richard Mendelson in New York. "This settlement holds Litana Development Inc. responsible for its failures and will make the company's job sites safer for the people who work at them."

The agreement affirms all OSHA citations issued for the company's failures to protect workers in 2021 and 2022 and affirms $180,000 in penalties for the citations. In addition, Litana Development must employ enhanced abatement measures that include the following:

  • Creating a written safety plan and then submitting the plan to OSHA.
  • Retaining a qualified safety professional to complete a job hazard analysis for all existing and future worksites.
  • Informing OSHA of all its current and future worksites.
  • Implementing a subcontractor management plan, including a requirement that onsite managers of subcontractors complete 30-hour OSHA training and onsite employees of subcontractors complete 10-hour OSHA training.

"This settlement goes a long way in ensuring employer accountability and providing protections for Litana and its subcontractor workers to prevent future exposure to dangerous power lines or other hazards," said Regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey S. Rogoff in New York. "The agreement further demonstrates the U.S. Department of Labor's commitment to pursue litigation tools to enforce workplace safety laws."


Jon L. Gelman of Wayne, NJ, is the author of NJ Workers' Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise Modern Workers' Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters). For over five decades, the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman 1.973.696.7900 have represented injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.

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Author: "Workers' Compensation Law" West-Thomson-Reuters

Recommended Citation: Gelman, Jon L., Wayne NJ Contractor Fied $180K for Exposing Workers to Energized Power Lines, (10/16/2023),