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Newspaper: Subway project plagued by construction accidents

A recent newspaper investigation has found that contractors working on New York's Second Avenue subway project have received 18 safety violations and more than $61,000 in fines. The newspaper says that the long-awaited subway project has been subject to dangerous conditions and too little oversight, resulting in construction accidents and other problems.

The violations are varied. In one case, workers were exposed to high levels of silica when they were given inadequate protective equipment. In a construction accident, one worker was injured in a 20-foot fall when he was repairing a conveyor belt.

Inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) were told that no one on the site knew exactly where the accident happened and that no witnesses were available. OSHA also learned that for about two years, the company had not properly reported details of accidents.

In March of this year, a worker became stuck in muck that acted like quicksand on the floor of the subway tunnel. Firefighters spent four hours prying the man out, and three other rescuers were injured. OSHA is now investigating this incident and two others.

In addition to construction accidents and incidents that put workers in danger, the newspaper noted other problems, including underground blasts that sent rocks shooting onto the street and a case where tainted soil was almost improperly disposed of at golf course site.

The subway tunnel was first proposed decades ago. It's slated to stretch from 63rd Street to 96th street and is expected to open late in 2016.

Source: New York Daily News, "EXCLUSIVE: Second Avenue subway plagued with dangerous conditions and safety violations," Greg B. Smith, June 2, 2013

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