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Contractors Fined $140K in Formwork Collapse

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

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The California Department of Occupational Safety and Health announced last week that it has fined three contractors for safety violations that it says led to a May formwork collapse that injured more than a dozen workers.

The Accident

Thirteen workers came away with injuries when the Oakland building partially collapsed mid-morning on May 26.

Crew members were pouring concrete into elevated formwork when the shoring system supporting the formwork collapsed from underneath them. Firefighters and rescue crews arrived at the scene to find some workers still dangling from scaffolding, and others who had fallen nearly 20 feet into the wet concrete, reinforcing steel, timber framework and equipment.

Other workers at the scene had assisted rescue crews in extracting those that had fallen into the quicksand-like debris and were stuck up to their knees. All workers involved were taken to the hospital to be treated for their injuries, with one requiring surgery.

At the time, Cal/OSHA spokesperson Peter Melton said the cause of the collapse was unknown but that the agency would be “looking at the scene, talking to witnesses, speaking with the contractors and looking at safety plans and such.”

Durability + Design News reported in June that both the contractor, Johnstone Moyer Inc. (San Carlos, California), and the concrete subcontractor, Largo Concrete Inc. (Tustin, California), have had multiple citations issued within the past five years.

The Investigation

Cal/OSHA’s investigation found that the formwork and vertical shoring system that collapsed were not properly designed, installed or inspected.

The agency issued "serious" and "serious accident-related" citations to Largo and another subcontractor, N.M.N. Construction Inc. (Tustin, California), and fined them $73,365 and $70,320, respectively, “for failure to ensure that the formwork and vertical shoring were designed to safely withstand all intended loads, failure to have calculations and drawings approved by a California registered civil engineer as required for vertical shoring over 14 feet tall, and failure to ensure the shoring supports were erected on a level and stable base.”

Johnstone was also issued general citations and $3,630 in proposed penalties.

“Significant safety lapses caused injuries that could have been much worse if the workers hadn’t landed in freshly poured concrete,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “Employers must identify, evaluate and correct unsafe working conditions and follow all requirements to prevent employee injuries and illnesses.”

Largo and N.M.N. have both declined to comment on the incident. Johnstone Moyer could not be reached.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Ethics; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; North America; OSHA; Safety

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