OSHA cited 11 contractors this week for hazards involving asbestos removal and other alleged safety and health violations at the construction site where an industrial complex is being converted to loft apartments in Pittsburgh, Pa.

The agency disclosed a total of $217,000 in proposed financial penalties against ten of the companies with the heaviest fines proposed against three Ohio firms.

Cleveland-based Martin Enterprises was hit with the highest total in penalties, $116,400, for alleged violations that included asbestos hazards and lack of respirator use and protective clothing. The excavation and demolition contractor has 20 employees at the project site.

Marous Brothers Construction, of Willoughby, Ohio, the general contractor, was given $61,000 in penalties. Marous has 30 workers at the project site.

OSHA initiated the inspection in February 2004 in response to a complaint alleging the improper removal of asbestos-containing material from piping on the project. The project site was also inspected in October 2003 and citations were issued to both Martin Enterprises and Marous Brothers Construction.

As a result of the most recent inspection, two Failure-to-Abate Notices were issued to Martin Enterprises with a total penalty of $56,000 for not abating violations previously identified. Citations were also issued for 16 serious violations with a penalty of $36,400; three repeat violations, with a penalty of $24,000; and one other-than-serious violation, which carries no penalty.

Marous Brothers received one Failure to Abate Notice with a total penalty of $25,000. Citations were also issued for eight serious violations, with a penalty of $18,500, two repeat violations, with a penalty of $17,500; and three other-than-serious violations, with no penalty.

The companies have 15 working days to contest the OSHA citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

The Heinz Lofts project is a $70 million, 267-unit apartment complex being developed by the Ferchill Group of Cleveland in five former H.J. Heinz Co. industrial buildings. The Ferchill Group was not involved in the citations.