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Historic Renovation Draws $107K Fine

Friday, October 10, 2014

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A sweeping plan to renovate an abandoned 19th-century textile mill in Connecticut has run seriously afoul of federal health and safety regulators.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Rockville Construction LLC of Hartford, CT, for 25 serious violations during the renovation of Hockanum Mill in Rockville, CT.

The violations, which carry $107,100 in fines, allege a variety of lapses involving lead exposure, respirator deficiencies, falls and electrical hazards.

Hockanum Mill Renovation
Facebook

Hockanum Mill project officials outline some of the project challenges in a Facebook video.

Rockville Construction, founded in October 2013, could not be reached Thursday (Oct. 9) for comment.

But owner Ken Kaplan, who is also developing the site, told the local Journal Inquirer that he took the allegations "very seriously" and had already addressed some of the conditions cited.

10-Building Renovation

Funded in part with a $2 million state Targeted Development Brownfield Loan, the 11-acre project aims to restore 10 buildings as a "Tech Center" with 150,000 feet of commercial and industrial space.

The original mill building dates to 1814; some buildings are more than 100 years old, and the site had been abandoned for 20 years before the project began. Full renovation plans, including a video tour, are available on the project's Facebook page.

The new tenants would include Rockville Construction and several other businesses owned by Kaplan, local media reported. The town of Vernon is also a partner in the project.

The site would also be home to the proposed New England Motorcycle Museum, which would house a collection of more than 200 antique and modern motorcycles, according to Connecticut's Office of Brownfield Remediation and Development.

Hockanum Mills HockanumMill
ctbrownfields.gov

The renovation involves 10 buildings on a site that had been deserted for more than 20 years.

The state says an environmental consultant "is on board to characterize and plan for the environmental remediation" and that, "in an effort to qualify for the Connecticut Historic Preservation Tax Credit program, an architect has been hired to oversee restoration of the historic buildings."

Serious Violations

OSHA is alleging a wide variety of violations at the site, all of them serious. Serious violations reflect hazards that present "substantial probability" of death or serious injury. The citations are detailed here and here.

The allegations include:

  • High levels of lead exposure to employees who have been scraping lead-containing paint;
  • Failure to provide effective controls to reduce lead exposure levels;
  • Failure to determine lead exposure levels or conduct biological monitoring;
  • Failure to train employees about lead hazards and safeguards; and
  • Failure to determine if the presence of cadmium and arsenic at the work site.
HockanumMfring - postcard
Wikimedia Commons

A postcard shows the original Hockanum Manufacturing Co. in the early 19th century.

In addition, OSHA said, the company:

  • Had no written respiratory protection program;
  • Did not train its employees on the purpose, selection, fitting, use and limitations of respirators; and
  • Failed to conduct medical evaluations to determine workers' fitness to wear respirators.

Furthermore, the agency reported lack of a hazardous communication program, an unguarded work platform, and a variety of electrical violations.

   

Tagged categories: Fall protection; Hazard Communication Standard (HCS); Health and safety; Historic Structures; Lead paint abatement; OSHA; Respirators; Respiratory Protection Standard; Worker training

Comment from Andrew Piedl, (10/10/2014, 11:50 AM)

It's amazing that a state would provide funding for a project with a Developer and Contractor that obviously lack both knowledge and experience - where is the oversight?


Comment from Andrew Piedl, (10/10/2014, 12:00 PM)

By the way, (in most parts of the country) you also need an Architect (more like a whole design team) to change the use of an existing building. And the 'town of Vernon is also a partner on the project'.


Comment from peter gibson, (10/10/2014, 12:01 PM)

Simply amazing in this day and age !!!


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