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Bridge Repair Work Draws $83,160 Fine

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

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A New Jersey contractor has been accused of 12 serious federal safety violations and fined $83,160 for conditions on a bridge repair project in Princeton.

 IEW Construction Group

 IEW Construction Group

Cited nine previous times by OSHA since 2007, IEW faces new violations on the Alexander Road Bridge project in Princeton, NJ.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Trenton-based IEW Construction Group Inc. for 12 commercial diving and other serious safety violations found while the company was doing repair work on the Alexander Road Bridge in Princeton.

IEW performs heavy construction and maintenance services, including painting and abrasive blasting. The current set of citations are IEW’s 10th since 2007.

The company did not respond Wednesday (Sept. 7) to a request for comment.

Violations

OSHA initiated an investigation under its National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation and a Local Emphasis Program on Bridge and Tunnel Construction.

The violations include employee exposure to “struck-by” and disorientation hazards related to a lack of clearly marked umbilical cables, which supply breathing gas and other services from a surface supply to a diver.

OSHA also accused the company of failure to:

• Instruct employees in recognizing and avoiding unsafe conditions such as struck-by and diving hazards;

• Provide employees with a safe practice manual for diving;

• Provide employees with decompression tables at a dive location;

• Provide adequate traffic direction, including warning signs, around the work area;

• Test air compressor systems every six months;

• Provide depth gauges at the work site; and

• Ensure that employees who perform modifications and additions on equipment recorded dates and the nature of their work.

A serious violation reflects substantial probability of death or serious injury from a hazard about which the employer knew, or should have known.

OSHA Record

IEW has a history with OSHA, dating at least to 2002. From February 2007 to July 2009 alone, the company settled a total of 13 citations issued on six different occasions.

Several of those citations carried no fine, and the two most serious cases were significantly reduced upon settlement. A 2007 case that initially leveled eight serious citations and a $29,300 fine ended with four citations and a $9,000 fine; a 2008 case that initially leveled six serious citations and a $24,000 fine ended with four citations and an $8,000 fine.

In addition, IEW has three other open cases with OSHA:

• A June 2010 serious citation that has been tentatively reduced to an other-than-serious violation, with a tentative fine of $4,000;

• Eight serious citations and an initial fine of $32,000 from January 2010, currently reduced to six serious and one other-than-serious citation and a $13,200 fine; and

• Two serious citations and an initial fine of $12,600 from May 2009, tentative reduced to one other-than-serious citation.

Workers at Risk

“This company failed to meet OSHA’s commercial diving operations standards and put its workers at risk of serious hazards, including drowning, hypothermia, and circulatory and respiratory problems,” said Paula Dixon-Roderick, director of OSHA’s Marlton Area Office.

“All employers, especially those engaged in high-hazard activities such as diving, must provide a safe working environment for their employees.”

IEW Construction Group, established in 1925, provides a variety of general construction services, including structural steel fabrication, historic restoration, and plant additions and maintenance. The company provides abrasive blasting, painting and powder coating services and performs bridge, dam, culvert, rail, marine and highway construction.

The company employed about five workers at the Princeton bridge site.

   

Tagged categories: Abrasive blasting; Bridges; Health and safety; Locks and dams; Maintenance coating work; OSHA; Powder coatings; Roads/Highways; Violations

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