OSHA Cites Mass. Company Following Fatalities

July 12, 2005

The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Testa Corp., a Lynnfield, Mass., demolition contractor, for 15 alleged violations of safety and health standards following the collapse of a craneway at the former Fore River Shipyard in Braintree, Mass. Proposed penalties total $60,400.

Testa Corp. was the general contractor for the demolition of the 190-foot tall steel craneway superstructure. On Jan. 26, two workers were killed and several others injured when the craneway collapsed onto an adjacent building from which workers were removing asbestos.

OSHA’s inspection reportedly found that Testa Corp. did not do an engineering survey to determine the craneway’s stability before allowing employees to work in the adjacent building. An engineering survey would have shown that several of the steel craneway’s members had been cut through by torches and cross-bracing supports had been removed, leaving the structure overstressed. Workers were also allowed into the building before the craneway had been properly braced or otherwise secured against collapse.

“Had proper procedures been followed and required safeguards adhered to, this fatal accident could have been avoided,” said Brenda Gordon, OSHA’s area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts.

OSHA’s inspection also identified several health hazards to workers exposed to airborne concentrations of lead while torch-cutting lead-coated steel. These included failing to monitor for lead exposure; several respirator hazards; lack of protective clothing and clean change areas; no training in lead hazards; lack of a written lead compliance program, and lack of appropriate handwashing facilities.

The last item was classified as a repeat violation since the company had been cited for the same type of hazard in December 2004 at a Boston jobsite. All other citations were classified as serious. OSHA issues a repeat citation when an employer has previously been cited for a substantially similar hazard and that citation has become final. A serious violation is issued for a condition where there is a substantial possibility that death or serious physical harm can result to an employee.

Testa Corp. has 15 working days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply with them, request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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