Employers are required to abide by state and federal safety laws to prevent injury and illness to workers. When they do not, they can are subject to fines and other penalties. However, even with this incentive, employers still cut corners. An example of employer disregard for worker safety surfaced recently in a high profile New York construction project in Queens.
Federal safety regulators have charged that five companies disregarded regulations while constructing the new Aqueduct racino in the summer of 2011. As a result, workers were exposed to dangerous conditions, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The agency imposed fines totaling more than $127,000. Some of the violations included:
•· Failure to provide protective clothing and breathing equipment to protect against airborne lead exposure
•· Failure to provide fall protection
•· Failure to provide safety training
The violations were considered “willful”, the term used to describe deliberate violations that carry more stringent penalties. Each of the five companies has the opportunity to challenge the fines.
The construction phase of the $880 million project was completed quickly and Resorts World President Michael Speller previously noted that construction work continued 20 hours a day. Resorts World operates the racino.
Source: New York Daily News, “Aqueduct racino contractors fined”, by Irving DeJohn, Dec. 21, 2012.