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A visit by workplace safety inspectors to a Jersey City, NJ construction site has resulted in 25 citations for alleged violations of safety regulations and $463,350 in proposed fines against four contactors.

Today, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited contractors Altura Concrete Inc., Nathil Corp., White Diamonds Properties LLC and Blade Contracting Inc. for violations that OSHA inspectors witnessed last December at a site where a 20-story building was under construction.

OSHA issued five citations for willful violations and assessed $315,000 in penalties to Hasbrouck Heights-based Altura Concrete, Inc. and Nathil Corp., concrete contractors for the foundation and superstructure of the 20-story building who employed 75 workers at the site, for failing to protect workers from fall hazards at open sides and edges on six of the building’s floors.

Willful violations are committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

“Year after year, falls remain the leading cause of death in the construction industry, accounting for almost one in every three construction worker deaths,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels in a release. “We know how to prevent falls, and employers have a clear responsibility to provide the right equipment and procedures. When working at heights, everyone needs to plan ahead to get the job done safely, provide the right equipment and train workers to use the equipment safely. OSHA’s message is simple: Safety pays and falls cost.”

More than 10,000 construction workers suffered injuries from falls on the jobsite in 2010, including over 250 workers whose injuries were fatal. In fact, the news is dominated by reports of construction site accidents where workers fell and suffered catastrophic injuries, such as one reported by Banville Law where a worker fell 15 feet into a trench.

Altura Concrete, Inc. and Nathil Corp. also received citations for serious violations and fines of $40,500 levied for failing to:

  • provide personal protective equipment for eyes and head
  • provide a valve protection cap for an acetylene tank in storage
  • store compressed gas cylinders in an upright position
  • separate oxygen and acetylene tanks during storage
  • provide fall protection for workers installing ribs
  • provide protection from protruding rebar
  • maintain shoring/reshoring plans on-site
  • provide hand railings on stairs
  • protect workers from fall hazards created by open holes
  • secure the cover over a floor hole and mark the floor hole cover

A serious violation is one with a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

OSHA also cited these two companies and proposed $900 in penalty for failing to record the injury of a worker who fell while climbing down a column at the jobsite and missed 59 days of work due to injury to his shoulder or arm.

White Diamonds Properties LLC, Jersey City employer of seven workers at the site, received two citations for willful violations involving failing to protect workers from fall hazards. The company also received five citations for serious violations for failing to:

  • provide a valve protection cap for an acetylene tank in storage
  • secure compressed gas cylinders in an upright position
  • separate oxygen and acetylene tanks during storage
  • protect employees from protruding rebar
  • have shoring/reshoring plans on-site

OSHA imposed $95,400 in penalties to White Diamonds Properties for these citations.

Blade Contracting Inc., Jersey City masonry contractor and employer of 21 workers on the site, received three citations for serious violations carrying $11,550 in penalties for failure to protect workers from fall hazards, improper use of a scaffold and failure to inspect scaffolding for defects.

“A project of this magnitude clearly needs an aggressive injury and illness prevention plan in place to prevent falls and other hazards,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York. “When management and workers together proactively identify and eliminate hazardous conditions, workers are better protected.”

The companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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