The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited the general contractor and five subcontractors working on the construction of the Berlin Power Plant in Berlin, N.H., for 31 willful, serious and repeat violations of workplace safety standards. The employers face a combined $280,880 in proposed fines following inspections by OSHA's Concord Area Office, which started in March in response to complaints.
"Workers at this site were exposed to serious and potentially fatal injuries from a variety of hazards. These included cave-in, fall, scaffold collapse, crushing, lead and electrocution hazards," said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA's area director for New Hampshire.
Project general contractor Babcock & Wilcox Construction Co. Inc., of Barberton, Ohio, faces a total of $116,280 in proposed fines. OSHA issued the company 14 serious citations, with $66,600 in fines, for assembling and using cranes on unstable ground; a 100-foot fall hazard through an unguarded wall opening; failing to train workers adequately to install fall protection systems; allowing workers to be close to an energized electrical panel, therefore exposing them to arc flash and blast hazards; and uncovered and unlabeled floor holes. Other serious citations include not performing air monitoring and determining lead exposure levels when removing lead-containing paint; not keeping work areas clear of debris; defective rigging equipment; and unguarded grinders.
The company was also issued one willful citation, with a $49,500 fine, for allowing a worker to wear a tight-fitting respirator over facial hair while the worker removed lead-containing paint. Facial hair can encumber a respirator from being properly sealed, thus exposing the worker to lead inhalation. The company also received one repeat other-than-serious citation, with a $180 fine, for torn welding curtains. OSHA had cited the company in April 2010 for a similar hazard at a Hastings, Neb., worksite.
Mascaro Construction Co. LP, of Pittsburgh, which performed excavation and utilities work and installed concrete foundations, faces a total of $85,000 in fines. It was issued one willful citation, with a $70,000 fine, for having workers in two excavations that lacked cave-in protection. Three serious citations, with $15,000 in fines, involve failing to protect workers against loose rocks falling into the excavation hole, using a closed stepladder to access a trench box and not providing cave-in protection for workers in front of a 6-foot-deep excavation.
Mardo Masonry, of Mt. Morris, Penn., which performed masonry work, faces a total of $56,000 in fines. It was issued a willful citation, with a $44,000 fine, for exposing workers to scaffold collapses due to an inadequately braced scaffold. Three serious citations, with $12,000 in fines, involve overloaded outriggers, storing excess supplies on the scaffold and lack of toeboards.
Northeast Utilities Enterprises Inc., doing business as E.S. Boulos Co., of Lewiston, Maine, an electrical contractor that installed the primary electrical wiring and transmission lines, was issued one serious citation with a $5,000 fine, for exposed live electrical wiring, unlabeled electrical panels and not closing unused electrical cabinet openings effectively.
Vaillancourt Electrical Service of Berlin, which installed and maintained temporary power throughout the jobsite, was issued five serious citations, with $11,600 in fines. It allowed workers to be close to an energized 480-volt electrical panel, which exposed workers to arc flash and blast hazards; it did not ensure the use of personal protective equipment; and it overlooked deficiencies involving temporary lighting, electrical cords and a panel, and did not guard an energized electrical panel from water.
Virginia Transformer Corp., of Roanoke, Va., which furnished and installed the main power transformer, was issued one serious citation, with a $7,000 fine, for allowing workers to be close to an energized electrical panel.
The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Berlin_NH_Power_Plant_Babcock_Wilcox_Construction_Co_Inc_895380_0910_13.pdf.
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. 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. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
Each employer has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet informally with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.