December 14, 2001

OSHA has announced a new partnership initiative to help protect the safety and health of workers involved in the World Trade Center Staten Island recovery operation.

The WTC Project Staten Island Recovery Operation Partnership formalizes a commitment to safety and health among federal, state, and city agency representatives, contractors, employees employee representatives participating in the effort.

Joining OSHA in the partnership are the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, New York Police Department, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, New York City Department of Health, New York City Department of Sanitation; Hugo Neu Schnitzer East, Phillips and Jordan, Evans Environmental & Geosciences, Yanuzzi & Sons, Inc., Mazzochi Wrecking; Taylor Recycling Facility L.L.C.; International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 14-14B and Local 15, and Garner Environmental Services, Inc.

The agreement calls on the partners to exercise leadership in preventing occupational fatalities and serious injuries and illnesses for all workers involved in the WTC Staten Island Landfill Recovery Operation. Partners agree to work cooperatively with all organizations assisting in the operation to:

  • ensure implementation of and compliance with the WTC Staten Island Recovery Operation Emergency Project Environmental, Safety and Health Plan;
  • abate all serious hazards immediately; and
  • share safety hazard and exposure monitoring data.

"It is paramount that the men and women performing this essential and significant work do so in an environment that is as safe and healthy as we can make it," said Patricia K. Clark, OSHA Regional Administrator in New York. "With this agreement we are confident that the work will proceed in that manner."

The partnership is similar to another pact OSHA recently initiated with contractors, employees, employee representatives, and federal, state and city agency representatives involved in the emergency response effort at the World Trade Center site. The Staten Island Recovery Operation Partnership calls on partners to work together in their respective roles to create the highest level of worker safety health in extremely difficult work environments.

The partnership agreement outlines a cooperative effort to ensure a safe work environment. Safety and health initiatives have already begun, including safety meetings, joint safety monitoring tours, respirator fit testing, air sampling and employee training.

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health John L. Henshaw praised the Staten Island Recovery Operation partnership for its commitment to worker safety and health. "This partnership demonstrates an extraordinary level of leadership in protecting workers who are conducting an extremely important job in an extremely difficult work environment," Henshaw said. "Our challenge is to ensure that the September 11 tragedy claims no more victims in terms of fatalities or serious injuries or illnesses. It's a challenge that demands a cooperative, coordinated effort on the part of all the organizations involved-and this partnership provides the framework for that effort."


A fatal accident in June at a job site in Idaho has resulted in citations and fines by OSHA against a Colorado company for failure to protect workers from the hazards of powerful liquid cutting streams.

OSHA announced it issued a willful and a serious citation to Ardco Corporation of Denver, Colo., with $63,000 in proposed penalties, for alleged safety violations at a job in Soda Springs, Idaho.

In June 2001, an Ardco employee in Soda Springs was killed when a hose coupling on a high-pressure liquid cutter failed, and he was injected in the abdomen with a water stream. The alleged willful citation stated that power operated tools were not equipped with guards to protect operators and other employees from hazards created by exposure to liquid cutting streams.

"Workers were exposed to cutting streams of approximately 36,000 pounds per square inch while cutting and removing the rubber lining of a phosphoric acid tank," said Ryan Kuehmichel, area director for the agency's Boise office, which conducted the investigation.

Alleged serious violations included failure to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards in that employees were exposed to ultra high pressure water jet cutting streams; lack of an accident prevention program; use of machinery, tools, material and equipment that did not comply with applicable safety regulations; lack of employee safety training; inadequate personal protective equipment for workers; failure to provide a written respiratory protection program or suitable in-line air-purifying sorbent beds and filters; and use of oil-lubricated compressors to supply breathing air that were not equipped with alarms to monitor carbon monoxide levels.

According to Kuehmichel, the company has 15 working days to contest the citations.

A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

A serious violation is one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.


Failure to provide a safe trenching operation for its workers could cost Florham Park, N.J., contractor Onorato Construction, Inc. $77,000 in penalties proposed by OSHA for alleged willful violations of federal workplace safety standards.

OSHA's action follows an inspection initiated when an OSHA compliance officer noticed workers in a 12-foot deep, unprotected excavation. The work is part of a project to widen a culvert traversing the Musconetcong River in Stanhope, N.J.

"Accidents, particularly cave-ins, in trenching operations are among the most preventable hazards that exist," said OSHA Area Director David Ippolito. "Yet, some contractors simply refuse to get the message that workers face serious dangers when not properly protected. Trenching excavations remain a serious threat to workers' lives."

New Jersey State Police, trained by OSHA as part of its New Jersey Highway Construction Work Zone partnership, had repeatedly warned the company about the danger of a trench cave-in. The employer had also received citations from OSHA for trench protection deficiencies in April

Additionally, the contractor allowed employees to work on the Musconetcong Bridge without fall protection, exposing them to a 12-foot life-threatening fall onto unprotected steel "I" beams.

The total proposed penalties for these two alleged willful violations is $77,000.

The company has until Dec. 20 to appeal the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


OSHA has proposed penalties totaling $64,100 to Yank Waste Company, Inc. of Albany, N.Y., following an investigation into a fatal accident that claimed the life of one worker on June 5, 2001.

OSHA Area Director John Tomich said that the tragedy could have been averted had the company utilized lockout/tagout procedures when an employee entered the shredder. The worker entered the shredder to perform routine cleaning before the machine was de-energized.

Lockout/tagout procedures should be followed during maintenance or repair operations to a machine. They ensure that power sources are locked in the "off " position and clearly marked with a tag so other workers will not turn the machine on by mistake.

"There is no reason why an employer should fail to recognize such a basic hazard as lockout/tagout." Tomich said. "The standard is clear, the hazard is very real, and the unfortunate consequences in this case were tragic, in that the accident was preventable."

OSHA also cited the company for allegedly failing to provide employees with adequate training in safe energy control procedures, failing to document energy control training, unsafe stacking of materials, inadequate maintenance of powered industrial trucks, use of an unguarded portable grinder, and employee exposure to electrical hazards. OSHA issued a willful violation to the firm for its failure to use group lockout/tagout procedures. Other citations were classified as serious.

The firm has until December 21 to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.