- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fined a Connecticut contractor $329,548 and issued the company two willful and six serious violations for exposing workers on a Concord, NH, project site to mercury and respirator hazards, according to an agency press release.
- After OSHA responded to worker complaints by visiting the site, agency investigators determined that contractor Manafort Brothers had not taken appropriate action to protect employees from the dangerous chemical while performing demolition operations on a mercury boiler.
- Manafort said, according to Business Insurance, that it stopped work on the project in June 2017 to evaluate its safety procedures, ensure employees were not exposed to mercury above acceptable limits, and retrain workers before resuming operations in September. Manafort is challenging the citations and fines.
Last month, three Alaska construction workers filed a lawsuit against Baker Hughes claiming that they were exposed to toxic chemical gases while building a new plant for the oilfield services company in 2014. The workers said prolonged contact with the corrosion inhibitor that was being vented out of a nearby building had resulted in damage to the central nervous system.
The Alaska Occupational Safety and Health fined a Baker Hughes subsidiary $1,050 after the agency investigated the workplace, but the company is challenging the lawsuit based on laws limiting workers' legal rights if they've received workers' compensation benefits.
While OSHA levied some serious charges against Manafort in its press release, gone was the Obama-era language that some in the industry say had shamed offending contractors. Edwin G. Foulke Jr., former assistant secretary of labor for OSHA under President George W. Bush, told Construction Dive earlier this year that using press releases in that way did not promote safety. Instead, Foulke said, the agency should focus on helping companies comply with safety regulations. OSHA press releases that focused on citations and violations stopped immediately after President Donald Trump's inauguration. Months later, once they resumed, such notices took on a different tone.
Worker safety and how well it is monitored has long been a sticking point between some firms and regulatory bodies. Still, companies that prioritize worker safety have been found to benefit across other areas of their businesses. A 2016 Dodge Data & Analytics report found that contractors who valued safety as a key part of their operations saw a higher project ROI and were able to recruit employees more easily than those who did not.