The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the David H. Koch Theater, located at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in Manhattan, for alleged repeat and serious violations of workplace health and safety standards. The theater faces a total of $51,000 in proposed fines, chiefly for asbestos, fall and crushing hazards identified during an OSHA inspection prompted by worker complaints.

According to a press release, OSHA's inspection found that employees of the theater and of outside contractors had not been informed of the presence of asbestos-containing and potentially asbestos-containing materials in the theater's promenade area and in nearby electrical closets. The materials had not been labeled and asbestos warning signs had not been posted.

In addition, an exit door was stuck and unable to be used, and a portable fire extinguisher was not mounted. As these conditions were similar to those cited by OSHA during a 2009 inspection of the theater, they resulted in the agency issuing the theater four repeat citations with $45,000 in proposed fines. A repeat violation is issued when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

"The recurrence of these conditions is disturbing," said Kay Gee, OSHA's Manhattan area director. "For the health and safety of its employees as well as outside contractors, the theater must take effective steps to identify and permanently eliminate these and other hazards identified during this latest OSHA inspection."

OSHA also found that, due to a lack of guarding, theater employees were exposed to falls into the orchestra pit when the stage was raised above the pit, and to being struck or crushed by the stage when it descended into the pit. These conditions, plus the use of temporary wiring in place of permanent lighting in the promenade area, resulted in OSHA also issuing the theater three serious citations with $6,000 in proposed fines. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

"One means of eliminating hazards such as these is for employers to establish an illness and injury prevention program, in which workers and management jointly work to identify and eliminate hazardous conditions on a continual basis," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

The theater has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.