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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Contractors Exposing Workers to Injuries and Hazards Required to Pay Monetary Relief

At least four contractors were required by the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) to pay monetary relief after the agency found out from a December 2011 inspection that the contractors were exposing workers to injuries and fall hazards.

The four contractors from New Jersey were named as Altura Concrete Inc., Nathil Corp., Hasbrouck Heights and White Diamond Properties LLC, and Blade Contracting Inc.

During the inspection, authorities observed that laborers working on the fourth floor don’t have personal fall protection, or were there fall protection systems installed in the area.

According to OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels, OSHA’S message to the construction industry is simple and easy: “Safety pays and falls cost”. He added that falls remain to be the leading cause of death in the said industry. In fact, one out of three construction deaths was caused by falling.

Dr. Michaels reminded that falls can be prevented. When working at heights, everybody needs to plan ahead of time on how to get the job done without risking safety. Employers are the very first people responsible in providing the right safety equipment and procedures to workers. Employers are further required to provide training to workers on how to properly use the equipment.

Altura Concrete Inc. and Nathil Corp. have been cited for several willful violations that are as follows:

•    Four instance-by-instance violation.
•    Failure to provide protection to workers from fall hazards brought by open sides and edges on several storeys of the building.
•    Failure to protect workers from all hazards created by the misuse of self-supporting stepladders.

On a related note, a willful violation is an offense committed with intentional knowledge or voluntary disregard for the laws’ requirements, or with simple indifference to worker safety and health.

Aside from the willful violations, the companies have received citations for nine serious violations, such as:

•    Failing to provide personal protective equipment.
•    Failing to provide a cap for an acetylene tank in storage.
•    Failing to store cylinders in an upright position.
•    Failing to separate oxygen and acetylene tanks
•    Failing to provide fall protection for workers installing ribs.
•    Failing to provide protection from protruding rebar
•    Failing to maintain shoring / re-shoring plans on-site.
•    Failing to provide railings on stairs.
•    Failing to protect workers from fall hazards brought by open holes.
•    Failing to secure the cover over a floor hole and mark the floor hole cover.

A serious violation occurs when there is enough possibility that death or severe physical injury could result from a hazard about which the employer is aware or should have been aware.

Other than that, some other serious violations were also reported, slapping both companies a total of $356,400 in citation penalties.

Meanwhile, White Diamonds Properties has been issued citations for two willful violations and some serious violations that give the company a total of $95,400 in citation penalties.

On the other hand, Blade Contracting Inc. has been cited with three serious violations which carry $11,500 in citation penalties. Such willful acts and other citations are clear violation of labor laws.

Last April, the OSHA announced a new campaign that is set to provide both employers and employees with life-saving knowledge and educational materials regarding working safely, and hazard-free workplace to prevent such fall accidents and other construction accident. Said campaign is brought by the increasing number of injuries and deaths from falls while working from heights in the industry.

In the field of construction liability, complex laws and procedures are involved. It likewise requires considerable expertise to achieve best results. Therefore, in the event of filing a claim, it is best to have a lawyer like a Los Angeles labor lawyer who has a great deal of success in this fast growing field of personal injury recovery.

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