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Two Firms Face Fall Citations

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

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Two New York contractors are facing more than $110,000 in proposed federal fines for allegedly putting workers at risk on a construction project in Manhattan, authorities say.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited building contractor W&L Group Construction Inc. and steel erection contractor Top Master Industries Inc./H&J Iron Works Inc. for a total of $117,170 for allegedly exposing workers to fall, fire and electrical hazards while rehabilitating three adjoining buildings in New York City’s Chinatown neighborhood.

chinatown in New York
© / Alija

The citations stem from alleged violations observed at a three-building rehabilitation project in mid-January in New York City's Chinatown neighborhood.

"The hazards we found at the Grand Street site are of concern since they involve two of the four leading causes of death in construction work—falls and electric shock,” Kay Gee, OSHA’s area director in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. “These employers are not meeting their responsibility to provide their employees with safe working conditions. Especially disturbing is the fact that W&L Group Construction has been cited for similar hazards over the last four years.”

Serious, Repeat Hazards

OSHA inspected the jobsite in January, according to case documents.

W&L Group Construction was cited for eight repeat and six serious violations of workplace safety standards, carrying $93,170 in proposed fines. The agency cited the contractor for similar fall-related, electrical and compressed gas cylinder hazards in inspections in 2012 and 2014, OSHA noted.

The agency also cited Top Master Industries for 10 serious violations, with $24,000 in proposed fines.

OSHA claims that both contractors failed to:

  • Provide fall protection for employees working on a scaffold;
  • Ensure fall protection training for employees;
  • Prevent employees from climbing cross-braces to access the scaffold's work platform;
  • Cover a floor hole that exposed employees to falls of up to 17 feet;
  • Ensure planks on a scaffold platform were secured, which exposed employees to a fall hazard of more than 7 feet;
  • Separate stored oxygen cylinders from fuel-gas cylinders or combustible materials;
  • Secure compressed gas cylinders in an upright position;
  • Ensure a fire extinguisher was near compressed gas cylinders and combustible materials; and
  • Use cabinets or other forms of enclosures to guard employees from accidental contact with live parts of electric equipment.
Fall protection

Falls are the leading cause of death in construction, accounting for about one-third of all deaths in the industry, according to OSHA. OSHA requires fall protection for workers six feet or more above a lower level.

W&L Group Construction did not immediately return a call Monday (Aug. 1) seeking comment on the case. The contractor has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

OSHA says Top Master Industries has met with agency officials to reach a settlement and confirmed the hazards are corrected.

New York City has faced a surge in construction-related injuries and deaths in the last year. Construction-site injuries to workers and pedestrians jumped from 246 in 2014 to 471 in 2015, a 91 percent increase. The number of deaths has increased from eight to 11, according to officials.


Tagged categories: Citations; Commercial Construction; Construction; Health and safety; Maintenance + Renovation; North America; OSHA; Rehabilitation/Repair; Safety

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