One developer and two subcontractors in New Jersey were recently cited after metal scaffolding, which employees were on, was found only five feet from energized power lines.
Earlier this year, OSHA received a notification from a “local power utility” about a project—with Litana Development Inc. of Wayne as the developer and Prata Construction LLC of Denville and Elite Brothers Construction LLC of Paterson as the contractors—in Paterson, New Jersey, where employees were “too close to nearby power lines,” according to a news release.
These employees were working on a construction project atop metal scaffolding, which was only five feet from high-voltage power lines.
OSHA informed the developer and subcontractors of the hazards and “told them work must not continue,” posting an Imminent Danger Notice at the site, the news release said.
The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey in Newark granted a temporary restraining order to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Regional Office of the Solicitor to enforce the notice in June. By July 5, Litana and department attorneys entered a consent injunction. Under the negotiated consent injunction, the employees could keep working but had to be at least 11 feet from power lines, according to the news release.
On July 15, ten days later, OSHA said it found workers too close to power lines. By August, “the court entered a more restrictive Modified Consent Injunction which provided for third-party monitoring and physical barriers to ensure that workers would be kept safe,” the news release said.
Each company received citations and proposed penalties from OSHA. Litana Development Inc was cited for three willful violations and proposed penalties of $435,081; Prata Construciton LLC received one willful and two serious violations and proposed penalties of $41,478; and Elite Brothers Construction LLC has one willful and three serious violations and $41,478 in proposed penalties from the incident.
“Litana Development and its subcontractors willfully exposed workers to potentially deadly electrocution hazards by making them work too close to energized power lines," said OSHA Regional Administrator Richard Mendelson in New York in the news release. "Despite repeatedly being told of the danger involved with this construction project, the companies ignored warnings and even a court order."