Mid Hudson Concrete Fined for Owner’s Death

Feds cite safety violations, settle for $15K

By Michael Turton

Mid Hudson Concrete Products has been fined $15,000 for workplace safety violations that contributed to the death of its owner, Joseph Giachinta, in an accident at the company’s Route 9 facility in Philipstown on Nov. 22, 2015.

Giachinta, 58, was killed when he became pinned under a forklift that he was servicing after the hoist failed, according to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Giachinta at a Philipstown Planning Board meeting in January 2015 (file photo)

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration began an investigation the day after the accident. Its findings, issued on May 7,  cited six violations it deemed “serious,” resulting in $26,320 in fines being levied against the company. A settlement was reached on June 6 in which the fines were reduced to $15,000. OSHA closed the case on Oct 5.

OSHA said the principal violation was that Mid Hudson Concrete did not furnish “a place of employment which was free from recognized hazards that were … likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees” and that employees were exposed to crush hazards resulting from the use of inadequate vehicle-support stands.

It also concluded that the stands were not adequately marked to indicate their capacity and did not have the proper safety markings and manufacturer information.

In an abatement note that outlines measures to be taken to eliminate the hazards, OSHA said support stands should comply with standards set by American Society of Mechanical Engineers/Portable Automotive Lifting Devices-Safety Standard for Portable Automotive Lifting Devices. It also noted the stands “are not to be used to simultaneously support both ends of a vehicle.”

According to OSHA, 4,821 workers were killed on the job in the U.S. in 2014, or about 13 people each day. In 1970, when Congress created the agency within the Department of Labor, an average of 38 people a day were killed. In addition, private employers reported 2.9 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses in 2015.

8 thoughts on “Mid Hudson Concrete Fined for Owner’s Death

  1. You have to wonder: Why would a federal department fine the heirs of his company? This is insane. Haven’t they suffered enough? They were so gracious to lower the fine and reach a settlement. This kind of abuse should stop!

  2. I am finding this article extremely upsetting and cannot even imagine how his family must feel. I cannot believe that this was on the front page of your paper. I can only shake my head in disbelief.

  3. My brother Tony and I read this and we conclude that if you get a civil-service job and crash a subway car, what happens? You keep your pension, and sue the agency for lack of treatment.

    If you start a business with your siblings, grow it to great success, work six days a week to support and provide for a great family — on a Sunday morning after a great day watching his nephew play at West Point and a great dinner Saturday evening makes an error in judgment and meets his demise at his own hands at the place his own hands built. Family and friends all help in some way to keep the operation going, and what happens: OSHA fine, $15,000. The government punishing the family of a man who made things and gave things. If you think government is good, ask anybody who ever had the pleasure of dealing in any way with Joe and anybody in his family and you tell me.

  4. What a horrible story. Leave it to the government to further add to the misery of this tragedy. Absolutely incredible that this family has to be punished further. My heart goes out to them.

  5. I really think the point here is that another person might have been the victim of this horrific and tragic accident. If the regulations had been followed, it’s unlikely that this good man’s family would have had to suffer. OSHA isn’t the bad guy. There is no bad guy.

  6. Rules, regulations, protocols, procedures, policies, laws, etc., in the name of workplace safety and for the purpose of reducing deaths, injuries and illnesses, developed by knowledgeable professionals in the field, are not in and of themselves, in principle, a bad thing.

    What is wrong, and what is almost always hidden from the general public, is that these rules, etc. once adopted, like all rules in society today (and undoubtedly in earlier days as well) are not uniformly applied or enforced. The rules which purportedly apply to all types of businesses of all sizes in reality apply only to the small guy, the small business, the small family business or the individual operator. Where an accident or incident of any kind occurs in a large business, almost uniformly the person injured is a worker-employee, and often he or she is improperly trained and ill-informed of the true nature of the risks of said employment. Any penalty for those running the show, the management, and/or the owners or shareholders of “limited liability” corporations typically is not applied.

    In these cases, where a large or powerful or politically connected corporation is involved, often the incident is not even reported by the worker-employee, for fear of retaliation. Or when it is reported the report is suppressed, the facts are distorted, and of course the worker-employee is typically blamed or held to be the cause or otherwise slandered. At most a small fine is imposed, usually very small relative to a large firm’s budget. The fine is probably tax deductible as a cost of business (while for individuals any type of fine typically is not tax deductible).

    You see this pattern also in the fraud that banking frequently is nowadays, in disasters or scandals involving the military, and so on.

    Of course in smaller businesses where there is an unfortunate event of any kind, the injured or damaged party or parties are more likely to involve directly an owner or a family member or a relative or a close acquaintance of one of these.

    All this is a key reason why typically it is difficult for smaller organizations and smaller businesses to compete with larger ones. The smaller ones are held responsible and the larger ones typically are not, or at least the larger ones are not held responsible to the same extent as smaller ones.

    • Excellent post and points well taken. To imply that somehow the government would have “saved” Mr. Giachinta is as fallacious as it is heartless. I have been involved in the construction business for most of my life and can tell you that most of the rules and codes are looked at by the inspectors as a moneymaking machine for the county, the town, or whatever branch of local government gets to do the enforcement.

      Look at what goes on in Putnam County with our licensed plumbers. It costs a fortune to get and maintain a license between the county fees, the bonds and all the insurances you have to have. The legitimate licensed guys are the only ones who the building inspectors go after for every little thing because they know they can collect the fines and fees. Meanwhile, there is a small army of unlicensed, uninsured “construction” workers out there (some of whom are in the country illegally) who are getting away with doing substandard work that never gets inspected until someone gets hurt.

      It does a great disservice to this family to suggest that their loved one could have been saved by the almighty government.

      • It goes without saying that unscrupulous people will try to make a buck off dysfunction and corruption inherent in governments. In fact, the two go hand in hand. Governments could not be dysfunctional or corrupt without the ready availability of unscrupulous behavior – conversely governments otherwise might (gasp!) actually represent the interests of the people.