Judge upholds OSHA powerline citations in Valley Stream
By Anthony Capkun
October 2, 2015 – In the U.S., a judge has upheld OSHA citations and $181,000 penalties for contractors whose employees worked near energized powerlines on Long Island.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the two employers in June 2013 for a variety of hazardous conditions at a construction worksite located in Valley Stream, N.Y. These included wilful violations for, among other things, electrocution hazards for employees performing masonry and crane work in proximity to energized 13,200V overhead powerlines.
The companies (Masonry Services Inc. dba MSI/North Eastern Precast LLC) contested their citations to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission; a hearing was held before administrative law judge Keith E. Bell in October 2014. Before the hearing, all parties agreed that the two companies should be treated as a single employer and their citations and penalties consolidated due to their overlapping ownership and their working at the same site.
Bell has issued a decision affirming all citations and ordering the companies to pay a total of $181,280 in penalties. The judge agreed with the Labor Department’s assertion that the companies had wilfully continued with hazardous work activities near the powerlines in disregard of specific warnings from OSHA and the Long Island Power Authority.
(Vordonia Contracting and Supplies, the project’s general contractor, was cited for similar hazards but settled its case in 2014, agreeing to pay $110,000 in fines.)