A New Jersey real estate developer and two contractors face a total of $518,037 in fines after exposing workers to dangerously live power lines at a job site in Paterson, New Jersey, the U.S. Department of Labor said Tuesday.
On April 15, the local power plant alerted the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration about workers constructing a five-story building for nearby power lines. After arriving on scene, OSHA inspectors found employees at risk of electric shock while working from a metal scaffold set up within five feet of high-voltage power lines.
OSHA informed the project’s developer, Litana Development Inc. of Wayne and two subcontractors, Prata Construction LLC of Denville, a carpentry contractor, and Elite Brothers Construction LLC of Paterson, a stucco contractor, of the hazards and told them the work could not continue. The agency subsequently published an imminent danger notice in English and Spanish to alert workers at the site of the extreme danger.
On June 23, the department̵7;s regional office of counsel secured a temporary restraining order in the US District Court for the District of New Jersey in Newark to enforce OSHA’s imminent danger notice. Attorneys for the department and Litana negotiated a consent order, entered July 5, to resume work as long as workers stayed 11 feet from the power lines.
Less than a month later, OSHA discovered that work had once again been performed dangerously close to the power lines. On August 2, the court entered a more restrictive modified consent order that mandated third-party monitoring and physical barriers to ensure workers would be kept safe.
OSHA said that “despite being told repeatedly about the danger of this construction project, the companies ignored warnings and even a court order.”
As a result, Litana Development faces $425,081 in fines and Prata Construction and Elite Brothers Construction each face $41,478 in fines. The companies have 15 days to compete.