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May 28, 2024
OSHA settles with New Jersey contractor after fatal fall

Granite & Marble Services LLC, a Linden, New Jersey, contractor, has agreed to pay a $13,500 Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fine following a worker’s fatal fall at a Bayonne building site, the agency announced May 23.

After OSHA cited the contractor with four serious safety violations, the company requested an informal conference with OSHA’s area director. The employer reached a settlement agreement with the agency under which the employer affirmed the cited violations and agreed to pay the penalty, implement enhanced abatement measures, and develop a safety program and fall protection plan.

The Bayonne Police Department alerted OSHA in October that a worker had suffered fatal injuries at a multi-unit residential building under construction.

Agency inspectors determined that a 39-year-old worker had stepped onto an elevated platform to unload materials and fell from the building’s fifth level. The agency found that the employer didn’t fully secure the work platform to prevent it from tipping or being dislodged from a telehandler’s forks. (Telehandlers are machines similar to forklifts that are used for materials handling.)

Granite & Marble Services also failed to provide required fall protection measures and used the work platform without prior written approval from the telehandler’s manufacturer. 

“While this settlement cannot reverse the preventable loss of life, it goes a long way to ensure that Granite & Marble Services LLC will abate hazards and implement safety measures to stop another tragedy,” Joseph Czapik, OSHA’s Parsippany, New Jersey, area office director, said in an agency statement.

“Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, which is why industry employers must protect their workers from clearly deadly hazards to ensure a safe workplace.”

In 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported 1,069 construction worker deaths on the job, including 395 related to falls from elevation. Fall hazards are one of the construction industry’s “Fatal Four” safety hazards, along with caught-in or -between, electrocution, and struck-by hazards. OSHA’s construction industry fall protection standard has been its most frequently cited standard for 13 straight years, the agency announced last fall. OSHA cited 7,271 violations in fiscal year (FY) 2023.

As part of the fatality investigation, OSHA also initiated an inspection of ARC NJ LLC, operating as ARC Building Partners LLC, the general contractor at the Bayonne construction site. OSHA cited the company for two serious violations for failing to ensure the platform was secured to the forklift and not getting the manufacturer’s written approval before attaching the working platform to the telehandler. The agency proposed penalties totaling $22,584. ARC NJ has submitted a notice of contest to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

The review commission and its administrative law judges (ALJs) hear employers’ challenges of OSHA citations and penalties. The agency is represented in review commission proceedings by attorneys of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of the Solicitor.

The solicitor’s office also represents OSHA and other DOL officials in federal court proceedings. For example, the solicitor’s office recently moved to seize an employer’s property, trying to collect unpaid OSHA fines for a series of fall protection violations. The employer paid $365,576 in fines and interest.

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