PATERSON, NJ – An E. 15 Street construction company faces more than $65,000 in federal fines for exposing employees to safety hazards like improper scaffolding, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
OSHA on Monday announced that it cited Illescas Brothers Construction Inc. of Paterson for exposing workers to 12 safety violations while performing masonry work on the exterior of a new home in Fort Lee. The agency said it filed similar violations against the company in 2007 for work it was doing at an Edgewater site.
Illescas Brother could not be reached for comment.
OSHA said in a press release that its staff inspected the company’s Fort Lee work site on June 28 and found several “fall protection and scaffolding violations.”
“For example,’’ the release said, “employees performing overhand bricklaying were permitted to climb the cross braces of the platform to access a work platform 24 feet above the ground, proper fall protection was not provided to employees trying to erect scaffolding and employees were allowed to work on an unstable scaffold 18 feet above the ground.’’
The company faces $55,440 in penalties for three repeat violations, including failing to use proper scaffolding and provide fall protection for employees erecting scaffolding, all problems that arose in the 2007 inspection at the Edgewater site, the press release said.
"A careless approach to worker safety and health, evidenced by these violations, places Illescas Brothers Construction employees at risk of serious injury and possible death," said Lisa Levy, director of OSHA's Hasbrouck Heights Area Office. "It is vital that all identified hazards be corrected as soon as possible."
OSHA said there were six serious violations with $9,900 in penalties, including failing to implement a respiratory protection plan, protect employees from falling material and provide safe access to a landing surface. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known, according to OSHA.
Three other-the-serious violations with no monetary penalties include the absence of a portable fire extinguisher, failing to provide a written hazard communications program and failing to make a material safety data sheet readily available, OSHA said.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, ask for an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, the press release said.
The investigation was conducted by OSHA's Hasbrouck Heights office; telephone 201-288-1700. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).