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Company Fined $7,300 in Fatal Collapse

Monday, January 9, 2012

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A New York demolition contractor will pay a $7,300 fine in the catastrophic collapse of a Florida power plant that killed a 65-year-old welder last summer.

Sensing “something wasn’t right,” Clark White yelled warnings to more than 20 co-workers—including his son and nephew—to escape just before the seven-story Progress Energy Florida structure collapsed on him June 9, his family said.

 Clark White was killed during a catastrophic collapse of a Florida power plant
Clark White, 65, worked with his son and nephew and was a father figure to other co-workers at Frontier Industrial Corp.

White, of Moundsville, WV, was employed by Frontier Industrial Corp. of Buffalo, NY. He had been working inside the 53-year-old retired plant’s 180-foot tall Number 3 boiler when the structure suddenly crumbled 75 minutes before workers were to begin a controlled collapse.

The pile of steel debris was 70 feet high and highly unstable. Although it took rescue crews 10 hours to find and recover White’s body, authorities later said he had died instantly from blunt trauma.

2 Serious Violations

On Dec. 7, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Frontier for two serious violations: one related to removal of steel construction and one related to mechanical demolition. The fine for each citation was set at $6,300.

 The seven-story structure collapsed June 9, 2011
The seven-story structure collapsed June 9 at Progress Energy Florida’s retired Paul L. Bartow Power Plant on Weedon Island, FL.

On Jan. 3, however, OSHA—as it frequently does—settled the case for much less than the original penalty, accepting a fine of $1,000 for the demolition citation. OSHA records still classified both citations as Serious, however, meaning that they carried “substantial probability” of death or serious injury from a hazard about which the employer knew, or should have known.

OSHA records show that the hazards were abated on Dec. 12. Frontier has no prior record with OSHA.

‘Committed to Safety’

Frontier has paid the fine in full, the company said.

“I think [OSHA] realized we are a company committed to safety,” chief operating officer Robert Zuchlewski told the Tampa Times. “We've never had a citation before in our history.”

White had worked for Frontier for eight years and “was a father figure to many people in our organization,” Zuchlewski said after the accident.

White’s family said in a statement that it had lost “a husband, father, a grandfather and a friend.” The statement expressed “genuine and sincere thanks … from our hearts to yours” to those involved in the rescue and recovery effort.


Tagged categories: Contractors; Fatalities; Health and safety; OSHA; Power Plants; Violations

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