Video Appears to Show Construction at Newington Gym Without Proper Safety Measures

NBC Connecticut received new video that appears to show construction being done at the Big Sky gym in Newington without the proper safety measures.

Last month, NBC Connecticut spoke with a retired Hartford firefighter who was kicked out of the gym after notifying town officials of what he believed was were construction safety hazards for him and others members.

Now another gym member, who wants to remain anonymous, shared a video they said they took last week of another concerning incident at the same gym.

“It’s very short but it shows a lot,” Mark Walsh, who was a firefighter for 20 years, told NBC Connecticut on Monday.

“They haven’t taken any measures to keep anybody safe,” Walsh added. “I saw that Big Sky and the contractors have continued on to behave in dangerous activities while the place is in operation.”

NBC Connecticut followed up with Newington Fire Marshal and Chief Chris Schroeder Monday who said he saw this video himself and 20 minutes later sent a deputy marshal to inspect the scene. Schroeder said they didn’t find any safety issues when they arrived.

“When you’re generating sparks, and you’re indoors, you could have a fire,” explained Milton Jacobs, who is the President of Safety Solution Consultants, Inc. out of East Granby.

Jacobs said fire isn’t the only concern when there’s what’s referred to as “hot work” being done in an open space.

“There could be concrete, there could be metal, and those chips—there are flying chards that could also hit the public and that could result in liability,” Jacobs added.

Jacobs said facilities have to have an adequate safety plan and permit in place with the contractor doing the work to ensure that provisions set by the Operational Safety and Health Administration are met. We do not know if there was an adequate safety plan or permit in place as the gym did not respond to our request for comment.

This includes having an additional person on watch making sure nothing catches fire, and segregating the area where the work is being done with some sort of barricade or temporary wall.

“Most of the larger and more experienced contractors that do commercial work understand that there’s liability that exists when you don’t segregate your work area from the public, and so they atomically take these,” said Jacobs.

Back in September, the local OSHA office told us they were citing Big Sky for violations, but couldn’t release details until owners were notified.

On Monday, the administration’s same Hartford office said they have not done any inspections at Big Sky nor cited the gym for any violations in the past.

“I reached out to them several times in phone calls and emails, and they’re very satisfied with the work they’ve done so far,” said Walsh of OSHA and Newington town officials.

NBC Connecticut reached out to the owner of Big Sky and Newington’s town manager’s office Monday, and has not heard back yet. Gym management elected not to comment when this issue was brought to its attention in September.

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