The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the Dragados USA/Judlau JV, general contractor for the East Side Tunnel Access Project between Queens and Manhattan, with 11 alleged serious violations of workplace safety standards. OSHA's Manhattan Area Office opened an inspection following an Oct. 15 incident in which a runaway rail car struck an aerial lift in the tunnel, injuring two workers in the lift.
OSHA found that the wheels of the rail car had not been chocked, and a safety chain had not been attached to prevent the car from rolling away while it was being disconnected from the rest of the train. As a result of those conditions, employees working farther down the track were exposed to being struck by the runaway car. The workers in the aerial lift lacked a radio or watch person to warn them of the runaway rail car approaching them, and the rail car lacked lights that would have alerted workers in the tunnel of its approach. In addition, the employer did not conduct inspections to ensure that proper safety procedures were followed to prevent a runaway rail car.
Inspection identified additional hazards involving unsecured compressed gas cylinders, damaged guardrails on the aerial lift, unprotected steel reinforcement rods sticking out of the tunnel's floors and walls, ungrounded electrical cords, a damaged ladder cage, and the employer's failure to train employees in the recognition and avoidance of tunneling hazards. 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.
Proposed fines total $48,000. Dragados USA/Judlau JV has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Manhattan office at 212-620-3200.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.