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Bridge Painting Draws $207K OSHA Fine

Thursday, April 21, 2011

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An Ohio industrial painting contractor faces $207,200 in fines and multiple federal citations for allegedly failing to provide fall protection and water safety measures for bridge blasters and painters working nearly 50 feet above the Maumee River.

In two sets of citations issued this month, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration accuses APBN Inc. of Campbell, OH, of 15 serious and willful violations stemming from an Oct. 21 inspection of its $10.2 million repair project on the Interstate 75 bridge in Toledo.

The fines are among the largest proposed in the area’s history, and the case has landed ABPN in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

“Falls are a leading cause of injury and death in the workplace. There is no excuse for failing to provide protection for employees facing fall and water hazards,” said Jule Hovi, OSHA’s area director in Toledo. 
 I-75 Disalle Bridge

 Ohio DOT

The Disalle Bridge carries I-75 across the Maumee River.

“Employers are responsible for knowing the hazards that exist on their job sites and implementing safety measures to protect workers who are exposed to risks that could result in injury or death.”

APBN officials were unavailable for comment Thursday (April 21).

Willful Violations

APBN was issued three willful citations—OSHA’s highest classification of offense—with penalties of $147,000, for allegedly:
  • Allowing workers to be exposed to a fall of up to 50 feet while climbing on and off the abutment walls to access the two suspended scaffold platforms on the north and south sides of the bridge;
  • Not ensuring workers wore fall protection on the job site; and
  • Not having a lifesaving skiff, ring buoys or life jackets available in the event that a worker fell into the river.
A willful violation is one committed with “intentional knowing or voluntary disregard” for, or “plain indifference to,” worker safety and health.

Serious Citations

On April 8, OSHA issued two serious health citations with a total proposed penalty of $14,000 for respiratory hazards at the site. OSHA said that workers’ respirators were not adequately equipped with proper filters and that an air compressor on site was not equipped with a carbon monoxide sensor.

On April 20, OSHA issued 10 serious safety violations with proposed penalties totaling $46,200. Those accusations include:
  • Misuse of ladders (for example, OSHA reported, “the ladder fly is used backwards, fly sections are suspended with threader rods through the ladder rungs and ladders are cantilevered on the abutment walls”);
  • Not extending ladders three feet above the abutment wall and not having grip handles on ladders; 
  • Failing to have qualified personnel inspect scaffolding before each work shift and be present for the erection, moving, altering or dismantling of scaffolding;
  • Failing to have a qualified person train workers on scaffolding usage and safety;
  • Not protecting lifelines from abrasions and damage (OSHA said the lines had knots in them and were exposed to sharp-edged, broken concrete surfaces);
  • Failing to have qualified personnel design and install lifelines;
  • Failing to properly inspect and retighten wire rope clips on suspended platforms; 
  • Failing to protect electrical outlets with ground fault circuit interrupters; and
  • Failing to use equipment in accordance with certification standards.  
A serious violation reflects “substantial probability” of  death or serious injury from a hazard about which the employer “knew or should have known.”

OSHA standards require that guardrails, safety nets,  personal fall arrest systems or other appropriate form of fall protection be used for work activities six feet or more above the next lower level. 

OSHA Record

APBN has no other open cases on record with OSHA. It does have two closed cases: In 2009, the company paid a $1,000 fine for one serious violation related to lifts. And in 2007, it paid $500 (reduced from $1,400) for one serious (reduced from two) and one “other-than-serious” violation related to lead.

The company has 15 business days to comply or contest the current case.

More information on fall protection hazards and OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program are available on OSHA’s web site.


Tagged categories: Abrasive blasting; Fall protection; Industrial Contractors; OSHA

Comment from Billy Russell, (4/24/2011, 10:12 PM)

Well it is about time somebody started checking,the willful violations I have seen by bridge contractors in North Carolina you guys could make millions trust me when I tell you I have the pictures

Comment from Billy Russell, (4/24/2011, 10:14 PM)

could the editor tell us if this contractor was QP qualified???? Let me guess this company was not QP qualified right??????

Comment from Mary Chollet, (4/25/2011, 8:13 AM)

According to SSPC's web site, the contractor is QP1 and QP2 certified.

Comment from shane hirvi, (4/26/2011, 1:07 PM)

Hey GENIOUS--Why are you posting on an industry message board that you have pictures of contractors in North Carolina engaging in willful CFR violations and how some people stand to profit "millions" from your pictures? What on Earth are you suggesting--you sound like an extortionist. You really really need to think before you open that mouth of yours. If you have pictures of people engaging in work that is an immediate danger to peoples lives and you didn't say or do anything until 10:12 March 24, 2011 on paintsquares--shame on you. If your intention is to smear bridge painting contractors working in the state of North Carolina months or years after "willful violations" occurred, again--shame on you. If you didn't do anything at all, except post on this message board, shame on you. If it is your intention to smear North Carolina for allowing "willful violations" on projects staffed by Billy Russell working for as the NACE Certified Coatings Inspector--job well done. If you actually did something about "willful violations" on your jobsite and feel the need to post about it months or years later; nice display of professionalism--GENIOUS. Bit of advice son--Deal with problems as they arise on your jobsites not months or years later on Paintsquare. I don't think you have any clue what a "willful violation" anyhow and you are certainly in no position to give it that distinction. .............................................................. .............................................................. To be successful in this industry you need a bit of knowledge, experience, rhetorical and technical communication skills, integrity, common sense, leadership, teamwork and professionalism. As inspectors we work with contractors and owners to ensure millions upon millions of dollars worth of projects are completed to the satisfaction of the contract documents. When the job is over we don't go onto message boards and smear the contractors and owners we work with. Get out of the mud before you are covered with it GENIOUS.

Comment from Erica McGrath, (4/26/2011, 8:53 PM)

Wow, I am a newbie, Mr. Hirvi, you make sense. Thank you. I find this web site very educational. And laugh out loud at times. Gives me hope there are practical/logical people out there. Taking my NACE 1 in June. Not quailfied to comment on anything, except commonsense. Thanks again for reasonable insight.

Comment from Stephen Mellon, (4/27/2011, 1:58 PM)

Poor Sir Billy. Ran his mouth one too many times....

Comment from Brian Chapman, (4/28/2011, 5:55 AM)

It would be GENIUS

Comment from shane hirvi, (4/28/2011, 3:04 PM)

Brian, I know how to spell the word "genius" Billy Russell called me a "genious" a month or two back and I intentionally incorrectly spell the word in a puerile attempt at needling Billy "genious" Russell--thanks for the help though.

Comment from Jeremi Day, (4/28/2011, 6:07 PM)

Although, I fully agree that any evidence that may show unsafe behavior on any project should be brought forth during the time of the violation; I must say this. To jump on here and speak to ANYONE in the manner that Mr. Hirvi has spoken to Mr. Russell, regardless of what you think about his level of professionalism is part of what gives us as Inspectors a bad reputation. I am almost certain that you, Mr. Hirvi, would speak in the same manner to a contractor who wasn't performing to the specification on a project. How did you put it, Sir? "Nice display of professionalism" I'm not so sure that I will ever read anymore comments by other inspectors on this site if this is how we present ourselves to the open public. I think the word "Integrity" was somewhere in the attestation that we all signed at the end of the Peer Review.

Comment from shane hirvi, (4/29/2011, 12:38 AM)

Jeremi Day, If I went to your place of business and took a bunch of photos of your workers engaging in,(and this part is key part)what I percieved as, "willful violations" at your place of business and then posted on a popular industry message board that somebody could make millions of dollars by going into your place of business and investigating how you do business how would you feel about it? What if he was talking about the kid that died on the Notre Dame practice field? I can assure you that many people in these types of situations would seek some legal advice about how to best approach the matter. I was merely attemtping to let your friend know a)that maybe he was needlessly placing extra liability on himself and the inspection company for which he works/worked by claiming that he and by extension his company had photographs of workers engaged in what were percieved as "willful violations". b) that he had no business smearing the state of North Carolina and any of the contractors he worked with on those projects. ........................................................... I am sorry you couldn't understand my point and that you felt the need to impune my integrity in this matter. If you feel that I have violated the terms of my attestation--take it up with NACE.

Comment from Jeremi Day, (4/29/2011, 8:24 AM)

A: I don't even know Billy. B: I don't care enough about how you present yourself to "Take it up with NACE". C: If you read up, I did, in fact, agree with your assessment of the situation. I just don't agree with jumping on here and speaking that way to anyone for all to see. I thought it was unprofessional. It makes us all look bad. I am sorry that you couldn't understand my point.

Comment from Doug DeClerck, (4/29/2011, 8:30 AM)

Not sure I want to get into this "Hornets Nest", but I would like to make comment based upon 30+ years of performing QA Inspection - If any inspector should see what even may appear to be safety concern and/or potential violation he is obligated to bring such to the attention of the appropriate individual(s) - If he does not, he is as guilty as the violators - QA Inspectors are not normally safety experts or IH, but should have the common sense and a fair amount of training to notice a what could be a safety concern, should bring such to the attention of those having specific authority over such and fully document (written/photograph)the situation/condition - The QA Inspector should not take photographs and file them away Hopefully I spelled everything correctly

Comment from Jeremi Day, (4/29/2011, 8:39 AM)


Comment from shane hirvi, (4/29/2011, 10:37 AM)

Jeremi Day, I am not going sugar coat an inspector who is smearing everybody associated with a project so he can get a couple of "atta boys" on an internet message board--sorry I have a huge problem with that. If I upset your delicate feelings in doing so I think can live with that fact. Suck it up buttercup... .............................................................. Doug I swear I'm not the spelling police.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (4/29/2011, 11:30 AM)

While I too find the approaches of some posters frustrating, I try hard to maintain a level of professionalism. I may not always succeed, but I do try. Safety issues concern me greatly, and I regularly report them to whomever appears to be the most appropriate outlet - despite not being an industrial hygenist.

Comment from Jeremi Day, (4/29/2011, 1:16 PM)

I would have to agree with you, Tom. On that note, I must disengage myself from the rants of this gentleman and gracefully bow out of the conversation. He is obviously not capable of acting in a professional manner or having an adult conversation on a public message board without name calling and and such. Mr. Hirvi, I assure you of this fact. I'm not your "buttercup". I think there are more appropriate places on the internet if that's what you're looking for, Sir. Search "Buttercup" on Google, buddy. I'm sure you'll find something to your liking. Have a good day, gentlemen.

Comment from Doug DeClerck, (4/29/2011, 1:19 PM)

Tom - I agree completely - Even though I am not a certified safety expert or an industrial hygentist, I too report those safety deficiencies - I can't believe we have so called trained, qualified and seasoned QA inspectors not reporting questionable or certain safety issues, but instead putting photographs of such in their files to be used at a later time for whatever reason they see fit - If this is in fact taking place then we are in sad and sorry state

Comment from shane hirvi, (4/29/2011, 1:55 PM)

bye bye buttercup....

Comment from Jeremi Day, (4/29/2011, 3:40 PM)

This one's for you, Shane -

Comment from shane hirvi, (4/29/2011, 4:13 PM)

Jeremi Day, after reading your earlier posts, I didn't believe you had anything of value to add to this conversation but then you go and post this gem from the Three Amigos--Kudos on a job well done. That was a good laugh and thanks for it.

Comment from shane hirvi, (4/29/2011, 4:17 PM)

Cheers and good luck on your bridge.

Comment from Jeremi Day, (4/29/2011, 4:26 PM)

No problem, buddy. You guys be safe out there.

Comment from James Schuster, (5/2/2011, 9:30 AM)

some people just have tooo much time on their hands ! Get out on your job-sites and do something !

Comment from Billy Russell, (5/2/2011, 7:37 PM)

I have been in the field,and unable to respond to this ridiculous interpretation of my intentions..... I only intend to bring attention to the willful disregard to lead abatement procedures being performed by companies that know the rules but continue to ignore proper procedure because MOST of the time the inspector has very limited knowledge in this field,I witnessed first hand QP rated contractors with as much potentially hazardous red paint chips floating in the cape fear river and various creeks on several different jobs as they had inside the containment,upon my becoming involved in theses projects I did in fact issue a stop work order and directed these individuals to clean this mess up NOW because it is in fact OWNER generated waste my loyalty is to the owner and not the contractor I was employed by a firm that was not enforcing the environmental obligation we all have to the public I assure you I will and do continue to represent myself in the highest level of professionalism in any project I am involved in I will not look the other way for the sake of keeping a job or pissing some contractor off....My pictures and report of my finding was reported to my superior who asked me not to send forward I left this firm for i will not look the other way for anybody....I will make sure it is done right or I will recommend to the owner that they pursue legal action against that company ignoring the rules of there certification PERIOD.......I have never drawn an unemployment check and have always kept busy in various projects...Elevated water storage tanks, Bridges,Refineries and fuel storage tanks so just because I was "right" regarding open air blasting in LA don't think for a minute BILLY RUSSELL lacks professionalism I am and will continue to display A PITT BULL approach to doing a job right!!!!!!!!!!

Comment from Timothy Heaton, (5/4/2011, 10:00 PM)

@ Billy: You previously expressed interest in the recent USACE Bonnet Carre Spillway clean and paint project. If you're still interested in collecting soil samples, you only have a few days to do it. Starting Sunday or Monday, the Corps will begin opening the bays and 250,000 cfs of water will be flowing through the floodway.

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