- OSHA has cited St. Louis-based contractor Western Waterproofing Co. Inc., doing business as Western Specialty Contractors, and proposed a fine of $155,205 in relation to a mini-crane accident on a project in New York City last June.
- The agency said Western put its employees in danger on the Manhattan jobsite by not making sure that the individual assigned to operating the crane was properly trained and evaluated for competence; for operating the crane in excess of its rated lifting capacity; and for not checking the load against equipment capacity first. The crane overturned and fell four stories, causing serious injury to two workers.
- “This employer knowingly put workers at risk by failing to ensure that the crane was operated by a competent person,” said Kay Gee, the agency's Manhattan area office director. “Effective training of employees, knowledge of equipment’s limits and correct operation of equipment are critical to preventing injuries.”
The case may serve as an example for contractors that the line between OSHA and criminal investigations can sometimes become blurred.
After conducting its own investigation, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office announced criminal charges of felony assault and misdemeanor reckless endangerment against Terrence Edwards and Timothy Braico, two Western supervisors. District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. alleged that construction manager ZDG LLC hired Western to install the façade for an 11-story building in the borough’s Harlem neighborhood. Braico, prosecutors claimed, ordered a mini-crane for the project but directed employees to use it without training and without an engineering plan approved by the city's Department of Buildings, which would have required the equipment be tethered.
The crane was lifting the facade's curtain wall panels into place when it tipped. As the unsecured crane fell, it hit worker Jorge Delgado in the back and caused another worker, Christopher Jackson, to fall three stories.
As part of a Deferred Prosecution Agreement, the DA’s office said Western cooperated in the investigation and will hire an independent monitor, increase worker safety training and pay for public service announcements about workers’ rights to a safe workplace, in both English and Spanish. Western, in a statement to Construction Dive, said, "The company has cooperated with the DA's office since the date of the accident and will continue to cooperate going forward."
Vance has been aggressive about pursuing safety violations and industry malfeasance as part of the Construction Fraud Task Force, which he formed after a worker was killed in a city excavation collapse. Pittsburgh recently followed suit and created its own fraud task force, although lawmakers there are focusing on contractors that commit wage violations that result in nonpayment or underpayment of taxes.