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OSHA Fines 4 NYC Hotel Contractors

Thursday, October 10, 2013

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Four New York contractors are facing more than $270,000 in federal fines for fall-protection violations and other hazards during construction of a midtown Manhattan hotel, according to authorities.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration levied fines totaling $272,720 against Flintlock Construction Services LLC, V&P Altitude Corp, SMK Associates, and Maspeth Steel Fabricators Inc., according to a Sept. 24 announcement.

New York City
Hakilon / Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons Attribuition-Share Alike 3.0

Four contractors working on the Marriot's new Fairfield Inn & Suites, located in Midtown Manhattan, are accused of violating fall-protection and scaffolding standards while working on the project in March.

The hefty penalties stem from a six-day inspection initiated March 21 in response to a complaint about fall hazards at the site of Marriot’s new Fairfield Inn & Suites, the agency said.

General Contractor Hit Hardest

According to OSHA, the largest penalties of $249,920 were proposed against Flintlock Construction Services LLC, the Mamaroneck-based general contractor in charge of the 23-story hotel project.

Flintlock was cited for seven violations—four willful and three serious—of federal fall-protection and scaffolding standards, exposing workers on scaffolds to falls of up to 26 feet, OSHA said.

Flintlock
http://www.flintlockllc.com/inside.htm

Flintlock Construction Services LLC has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The company serves the New York metro area and specializes in hotel construction, according to its website.

"These employees were one trip, slip or misstep away from a deadly or disabling fall," said Kay Gee, OSHA's area director for Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. "Falls are the leading cause of death among workers in construction.

"There is no excuse for an employer's failure to supply and ensure the use of legally required safeguards that can prevent injuries and save lives. The sizable fines proposed reflect both the severity of these hazards and that Flintlock was aware of, and failed to correct, the hazards."

Willful Citations

Specifically, OSHA said Flintlock failed to:

  • Provide and ensure the use of fall protection, such as guardrails or personal fall-arrest systems, for workers on the scaffold;
  • Provide a safe means of scaffold access, causing workers to climb its cross-bracing to reach their work platforms;
  • Fully plank the work platforms; and
  • Tie off to restrain the scaffold from tipping.

Those conditions resulted in the issuance of four willful citations, with $233,200 in fines.

scaffold safety
OSHA

OSHA's scaffold standards are intended to protect employees from hazards such as falls, structural instability, electrocution, falling objects and overloading.

A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing, or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Serious Citations

The federal safety regulators also issued three serious citations, with $16,720 in fines, to Flintlock for the following hazards:

  • Failing to provide training on the hazards associated with erecting scaffolds;
  • Failing to have a competent person determine the feasibility of providing fall protection for workers erecting and dismantling the scaffolding;
  • A scaffold walkway that was too narrow; and
  • Inadequate anchorage for the fall protection system.

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.

Severe Violator

Due to the nature of the violations in this case, Flintlock has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to maintain compliance with regulations, according to OSHA.

The SVEP focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.

Founded in 1997, Flintlock is a family-owned builder/developer that bills itself as a “premier New York City open-shop general contractor, constructing hotels, multifamily, residential and commercial buildings,” according to its website.

OSHA’s record for Flintlock includes three citations issued in November 2008. The company was fined $7,500, later reduced to $5,000 through informal settlement, for fall protection and wiring safety hazards.

Subcontractors Fined

Three subcontractors on the Manhattan hotel project were also cited by the federal agency.

V&P Altitude Corp., a Brooklyn-based contractor, was issued five serious citations, with $13,200 in fines, alleging:

  • Lack of fall protection;
  • Not providing safe access to the scaffolding;
  • Failure to fully planking the scaffold platforms;
  • Failure to tie off the scaffolding; and
  • Failure to lock mobile scaffold wheels and casters.

Established in 1989, V&P Altitude describes itself on its website as a “well-established glass and mirror installation and replacement business.” The company offers services to high-rise buildings, office parks, hotels, malls and homes in the New York area.

A review of OSHA records did not indicate any past violations for V&P Altitude.

SMK Associates, an Astoria-based masonry contractor, was issued three serious citations, with $7,600 in fines, for electrical hazards and failing to provide workers with eye and face protection.

OSHA records indicate that SMK Associates was fined $16,800 in penalties for 10 serious and two other-than-serious safety violations in December 2012. The company informally settled the case for $8,400. The hazards cited in that case included failing to provide workers with respiratory protection.  

OSHA also issued Maspeth Steel Fabricators Inc., a Maspeth-based steel framing contractor, one serious citation, carrying a $2,000 fine, for failing to provide training on the hazards of working on scaffolds.

The company does not have a record of past violations with OSHA.

   

Tagged categories: Commercial Construction; Enforcement; Fall protection; General contractors; Hazards; Health and safety; Hotels; OSHA

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