Contractor Facing $119,000 in OSHA Fines Had History of Violations

December 20, 2004

OSHA has cited Conti & Carlucci Construction Inc. of Mt. Sinai, NY, for seven alleged willful and serious violations of workplace safety standards following an inspection at a Patchogue, NY, construction site.

Jobsite employees were found to be working on 12-foot high scaffolding without fall protection. Continued failure to protect workers against falls and other potentially fatal construction hazards at several Long Island jobsites has resulted in $119,000 in proposed fines from the agency

Workers at the Patchogue jobsite were exposed to fall hazards resulting from the company's alleged failure to fully plank scaffolding. Inspectors also noted the lack of guardrails along the scaffold's open sides; employees had to climb frames and cross bracing to access the scaffold due to the absence of ladders or other safe means of access. As well, the company allegedly failed to train workers to recognize and avoid such hazards or to provide workers with helmets as protection against falling objects.

Conti & Carlucci has been cited by OSHA four times in the past 2 years for the same or similar hazards at other New York state job sites. As a result, these latest citations have been classified as willful, carrying $116,000 in proposed fines. The agency defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

The company was also issued two serious citations and fined $3,000 for allegedly failing to use base plates and cross-braces to support the scaffolding. OSHA defines a serious violation as a condition where there is a substantial possibility that death or serious physical harm can result to an employee.

Conti & Carlucci has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

New Jersey Pallet Company Receives $187,000 in OSHA Fines For Noise Hazards

OSHA has proposed $187,125 in fines for Pallet Logistics Management Services, Inc., resulting from workplace noise violations.

The agency discovered the violations while investigating a complaint alleging that employees at the Vineland, NJ, site were exposed to excessive levels of carbon monoxide. While OSHA did not support that complaint, investigators found that noise levels at both the Vineland and Swedesboro, NJ, plants were excessive and considered hazardous.

The agency issued several citations to the company, which refurbishes and sells pallets to companies throughout New Jersey. These included four alleged willful violations, carrying a penalty of $150,000, and 14 alleged serious violations, with a $27,750 penalty. Additionally, the company was issued two other-than-serious violations, as well as a failure to abate notice, which carries a penalty of $9,375.

The willful citations address machine guarding and noise-exposure levels. The company has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Tips to Protect Workers in Cold Environments

With the onset of cold weather, OSHA is reminding employers and workers to take necessary precautions, such as those listed on OSHA's Cold Stress Card, to prevent and treat cold-related health problems. Workers in construction, commercial fishing, maritime and agriculture are among those who need to take precautions.

Prolonged exposure to freezing or cold temperatures may cause serious health problems such as trench foot, frostbite and hypothermia. In extreme cases, including cold water immersion, exposure can lead to death. Danger signs include uncontrolled shivering, slurred speech, clumsy movements, fatigue and confused behavior. If these signs are observed, call for emergency help.

OSHA's Cold Stress Card provides a reference guide and recommendations to combat and prevent many illnesses and injuries. Available in English and Spanish, this laminated fold-up card is free to employers, workers and the public. Tips include the following:

How to Protect Workers

  • Recognize the environmental and workplace conditions that may be dangerous
  • Learn the signs and symptoms of cold-induced illnesses and injuries and what to do to help workers
  • Train workers about cold-induced illnesses and injuries
  • Encourage workers to wear proper clothing for cold, wet and windy conditions, including layers that can be adjusted to changing conditions
  • Be sure workers in extreme conditions take a frequent short break in warm dry shelters to allow their bodies to warm up
  • Try to schedule work for the warmest part of the day
  • Avoid exhaustion or fatigue because energy is needed to keep muscles warm
  • Use the buddy system - work in pairs so that one worker can recognize danger signs
  • Drink warm, sweet beverages (sugar water, sports-type drinks) and avoid drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, sodas or hot chocolate) or alcohol
  • Eat warm, high-calorie foods such as hot pasta dishes
  • Remember, workers face increased risks when they take certain medications, are in poor physical condition or suffer from illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease

For free copies of OSHA's Cold Stress Card in English or Spanish, visit the OSHA website or call 1-800-321-OSHA.

OSHA Signs New Alliance With Consulate General of Mexico and Georgia Tech

OSHA recently signed a new alliance with the consul general of Mexico in Atlanta and officials of Georgia Tech Research Institute's Safety, Health and Environmental Technology Division, with the goal of preventing injuries and illnesses among the Hispanic workforce.

The alliance will develop and distribute safety and health materials in Spanish and English, as well as working with community-based organizations to disseminate safety information to Mexican workers. It will also publicize the availability of an OSHA toll-free number and a consulate phone number; this will allow Mexican workers to call for assistance in recognizing, reducing, and reporting workplace safety and health hazards.

In addition, a Construction Hazard Awareness Training (CHAT) program will concentrate on reducing safety and health hazards in an industry that traditionally employs Mexican workers.

In July, the United Mexican States, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and OSHA signed a joint declaration and letter of agreement in Washington, DC, to promote safety and health protection for Mexican workers in the United States.