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Published: Thursday, 4/21/2011

OSHA fines contractor on DiSalle Bridge job

Penalties total $207,200 after 2 inspections

BLADE STAFF

A northeastern Ohio construction subcontractor that worked last fall on repairs to the I-75 DiSalle Bridge that spans the Maumee River has been fined $193,200 by federal safety inspectors for failure to provide protection against falls by workers engaged in sandblasting and painting.

APBN Inc., of Campbell, Ohio, just south of Youngstown, received a second fine of $14,000 after an inspection in March, bringing its combined penalties while working on the bridge to $207,200.

"It's a significant fine for penalties. It is one of the bigger fines in recent history in the Toledo area," said Scott Allen, a spokesman with the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration office in Chicago.

The citation stemmed from an October inspection, but the company wasn't notified until this month. The OSHA report was released publicly Wednesday.

Last fall, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. was fined $213,500 for violations at its factory in Findlay. In 2007, Fru-Con Construction Corp. of Ballwin, Mo., was fined $150,000 after a worker was killed during construction of the Veterans' Glass City Skyway bridge.

No deaths or injuries prompted the APBN inspection, but OSHA in an Oct. 21 inspection found five willful violations -- the highest classification for offenses -- on the site of the $10.2 million bridge repair project.

The violations included workers not wearing flotation vests while on platforms 40 to 50 feet above the Maumee, a lack of ring buoys for potential rescue operations, and a lack of an available rescue skiff, no platform guards to protect against falls, no personal fall protection for workers, and no protection from falls while using ladders to access work platforms.

APBN also was charged with 11 violations classified as serious, but OSHA officials said the fall hazards were the biggest problems, drawing fines of $147,000. The company also was placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

"We still consider falls on work sites a major issue in a number of industries, so we certainly take them very seriously … " Mr. Allen said. "It's a point of emphasis for us. Falls are the leading cause of death or injury in the workplace."

Officials of APBN did not respond to calls seeking comment. The company has 15 days to accept or contest the fines.



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