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Whiting-Turner Cited in Fatal Collapse

Thursday, January 30, 2014

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A Maryland-based general contractor whose employee was killed and another seriously injured in a collapse of nearly 50,000 pounds of concrete is facing $11,125 in fines for serious safety violations in the case.

Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (MOSH) has issued citations to Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, of Baltimore, MD, for two serious and one other-than-serious safety violation after the deadly collapse at the Westfield Montgomery Mall expansion project in Bethesda, MD.

Carroll Wills
Family Photo / NBC4 Washington

Carroll Wills, 57, was killed in May when an inadequately supported 42,800-pound concrete slab fell in the mall garage.

On May 23, 2013, Carroll Wills, 57, was killed and another worker suffered a severe arm injury that resulted in amputation when support systems holding a 42,800-pound concrete slab failed inside the mall garage during the project, authorities said. The support system was improperly installed, authorities said.

Wills was said to have died upon impact; the other worker was trapped beneath the rubble for at least four hours, reports said.

Company to Contest

Whiting-Turner officials did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday (Jan. 28), but MOSH authorities have told reporters that the company is contesting the violations.

Whiting-Turner is a 105-year-old company that provides construction management, general contracting, design/build and specialty contracting services throughout the U.S.

The company regularly ranks with the top domestic general building contractors as reported by Engineering News Record (ENR).

'Doing Something He Loved'

Wills' daughter, Carole, told a local NBC television outlet that her dad had been proud to be working on such a high-profile project. The Westfield Montgomery Mall project, just outside Washington, D.C., included work on a 16-screen movie theater complex above a parking garage.

“He passed away doing something I know he loved,” she said during an interview with NBC4 Washington.

The incident delayed the project, but officials say it will be completed in the fall.

3 Citations Issued

According to MOSH, Whiting-Turner failed to ensure the double tee pre-stressed concrete beam was “cribbed, blocked, or otherwise secured after it had been raised by a hydraulic jack.”

The serious violation carries a penalty of $5,345.

concrete slab
U.S. Department of Labor

Whiting-Turner faces $11,125 in fines for safety hazards relating to the mall accident. Investigators said a support system failed and initiated the collapse. The braces were allegedly not installed as per the manufacturer's instructions.

Additionally, the contractor did not furnish employment and a place of employment which were “free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees,” according to MOSH. The agency fined the company $5,800 for that hazard, classified as serious.

Authorities provided the following description of the parking garage and the support system.

“Eight independent shoring towers, four for jacking and four for shoring/skating, were used to raise the double tee. When the extension frames were installed [...] diagonal gooser braces were not installed as per the instructions of the manufacturer of the shoring towers. 

“In addition placement of an eight-inch high spacer beam between the double tee stem and the upper W8 by 10 beam weakened the rigidity of the upper support system on top of the shoring/skating towers in the north/south direction. The single re-jacking at the SE jacking tower also significantly increased the vertical load at the NW shoring/skating tower.

“As a result of the above three factors, the upper support system of the NW shoring/skating tower failed and initiated the collapse, resulting in the death of one employee and serious injuries to another.”

Concrete cracks
U.S. Department of Labor

Cracks were seen in the concrete slabs during the investigation.

The company was also hit with an other-than-serious citation in the case, for not providing copies of records within four business hours. That citation carried no fine.

A meeting to discuss the citations is scheduled for Feb. 5, according to NBC4.

The local NBC affiliate also reported that Montgomery County’s Department of Permitting Service issued Whiting-Turner violations and $2,000 in fines for “failing to keep a construction or demolition site free from unsafe conditions.”

OSHA Record

A review of OSHA’s database indicates the company has had several inspections of D.C.-area projects since 2009, including four in 2013.

In November 2013, the company was cited $3,000 for an other-than-serious stairway hazard. The fine was reduced to $300 through an informal settlement.

A case from September 2013 remains open and includes three other-than-serious citations involving recording criteria, fire protection, and fall-protection systems criteria and practices. Proposed fines were not listed in OSHA’s database.

In July 2013, the company was cited for another other-than-serious stairway hazard, but was not issued a fine. The case is listed as closed.

A closed case from April 2013 involved two serious violations and one other-than-serious for general safety requirements and fall protection issues, respectively. Initially, the company was fined $8,000 for the hazards—$5,000 for the serious violations.

However, the serious citations were deleted and the company’s penalty for the other-than-serious safety hazard was dropped to $0, through an informal settlement.

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Concrete; Contractors; Enforcement; Fatalities; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; OSHA; Parking Garages; Regulations

Comment from john lienert, (1/30/2014, 10:32 AM)

Where was the safety coordinator for Whiting -Turner ? I guess that he was dropped,just like all the big fines, by some sort of magical "informal settlement".If a man's life only costs a few thousand dollars...........just figure in the cost of a few deaths on your big jobs and you can forget those pesky interruptions for safety meetings....and just wait for an "informal meeting"


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