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$33K in Fines for 2nd Project Death

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

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Federal safety authorities have levied $33,600 in fines against a siding subcontractor and general contractor in the second fatal accident at a problem-plagued apartment project in Fayetteville, AR.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued $19,600 in fines Sept. 13 to Parkcrest Builder Group Ltd., of Houston, TX, in connection with the death of Jess C. Wilson Jr., 44, of Joplin, MO.

OSHA issued $14,000 in fines Sept. 16 to siding subcontractor WW Enterprises of Anderson, MO, stemming from the incident.

In addition to two fatalities in separate incidents, The Vue project has confronted a fuel spill and fire-code violations, authorities said.

Electrocution

On June 9, Wilson was installing siding from a boom lift when he struck his head on a high-voltage wire and was electrocuted, according to local reports citing police.

Aerial lift
OSHA

On June 9, Jess C. Wilson Jr. was installing siding from a boom lift when he struck his head on a high-voltage wire and was electrocuted. The fatal incident was the second for The Vue apartment construction project in Fayetteville, AR. The image above does not represent the scene in this case.

Another worker, Patrick Skaggs, of Joplin, was also in the boom lift. He was critically injured and transported to a local hospital for treatment, reports said.

Other workers in lifts 60 feet away said that they had felt the surge of electricity. They complained of numbness and were also taken to the hospital as a precaution, reports noted.

General Contractor Cited

Wilson was a carpenter by trade, according to an obituary. He left behind a fiancee, Amanda Benton, and four children: Abby, Destiny, Alex, and Jonathan.

OSHA cited Parkcrest Builders Group for four serious violations and proposed a fine of $4,900 for each violation.

The company is accused of:

  • Not ensuring that employees required to operate equipment and machinery were qualified by training or experience;
  • Permitting employees to operate an aerial lift within two feet of energized overhead power lines;
  • Not ensuring that each employee working from an aerial lift were tied off to the boom or basket;
  • Not ensuring that employees working on balconies were protected from falls greater than 10 feet to the unfinished ground below.

An OSHA violation qualifies as serious if death or serious physical harm can result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.

The company has contested the violations, according to an OSHA spokesperson.

Parkcrest Builders does not have a record of safety violations with OSHA, according to a review of the agency’s database.

Subcontractor Citations

OSHA’s case against WW Enterprises cites five serious violations and proposed fines of $2,800 for each.

The company is accused of:

  • Not ensuring that employees required to operate equipment and machinery were qualified by training or experience;
  • Failing to train employees to recognize and avoid falls greater than 10 feet from the balconies and aerial lifts, and electric shock hazards from energized overhead power lines;
  • Permitting employees to operate an aerial lift within two feet of energized overhead power lines;
  • Not ensuring that each employee working from an aerial lift were tied off to the boom or basket;
  • Not ensuring that employees working on balconies were protected from falls greater than 10 feet up to 40 feet to the unfinished ground below.

WW Enterprises has not yet contested the citations, according to an OSHA official.

A review of OSHA’s database did not yield any past safety violations.

First Deadly Incident

Wilson’s death followed the May death of 20-year-old Brannon Rhine, of Springdale, AR, at the same construction project.

On May 5, Rhine was working in a ditch for underground sewer lines at the site when the trench collapsed, burying him alive, according to authorities.

trench
U.S. Department of Labor

In May, a 20-year-old worker was working in a trench when it collapsed, burying him alive. The trench images above do not represent the scene in this case.

OSHA issued $7,600 in fines July 1 to a Business Construction Services LLC, a San Angelo, TX-based subcontractor for the death.

The agency said Rhine's employer failed to have the trench inspected and to provide a means of exit from the excavation site. The company has contested those citations.

The company has denied any wrongdoing in the incident, according to documents filed in a wrongful-death lawsuit, initiated by Rhine’s family. (For more information, see “Contractor Blames Worker Buried Alive.”)

Business Construction Services does not have a record of past citations with OSHA.

Other Problems

The Vue project has had other problems as well.

In June, hundreds of gallons of diesel spilled from a fuel tank used to fill up construction equipment, according to reports.

In April, before the deaths and fuel spill, there was a month-long work stoppage ordered for fire-code violations at the site.

The Vue is a 656-unit student housing complex that will feature three multi-level townhomes, midrise urban living and typical apartments, according to the project’s website.

   

Tagged categories: Access; Enforcement; Fatalities; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; lift; OSHA; Regulations

Comment from john lienert, (10/23/2013, 9:03 AM)

life is cheap


Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (10/23/2013, 10:35 AM)

Certainly sounds like they don't understand basic safety. Shore your trenches, require exits. Keep well away from energized power lines. Very basic stuff.


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