Region 1 News Release: BOS 2000-094
Friday, July 7, 2000
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
OSHA COMPLETES INSPECTION OF MILFORD, CONNECTICUT, FATAL COLLAPSE; CITES EMPLOYER FOR ALLEGED FAILURE TO FOLLOW STEEL ERECTION PROCEDURES
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has completed its investigation of a fatal structural steel collapse at a Milford, Connecticut, power plant construction site and has cited the company responsible for erecting the plant for an alleged violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
On February 2, 2000, the steel structure of a multi-story steam generator unit that was under construction collapsed, landing on a crane, the boom of which in turn struck two aerial lifts being used by workers. Two workers in one of the aerial lifts were killed; the worker in the second lift and the crane operator were seriously injured.
According to Clifford S. Weston, OSHA area director in Bridgeport, the inspection found that Black & Veatch Construction, Inc., the Missouri-based contractor responsible for the erection of the generator unit, did not follow the established erection procedures for the unit.
Specifically, temporary diagonal bracing that was being used to support the unit during its erection had been removed prematurely, thus compromising the unit's stability. This in turn left employees working adjacent to the unstable unit exposed to crushing and traumatic injuries from the potential collapse of the unstable structure.
"The inspection found that the diagonal bracing was removed earlier than the erection procedures called for, leaving the structure vulnerable to collapse," said Weston. "If proper erection procedures had been adhered to, this structure would not have collapsed.
"As a result, OSHA is citing Black & Veatch for a Serious violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act for allegedly exposing employees to the hazards of crushing and traumatic injuries and proposing a fine of $7,000, the maximum fine that can be proposed under law for a Serious violation."
A serious violation is defined by OSHA as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
Weston noted that one feasible method of abating the cited hazard would be to follow structural erection procedures and, in the event of a necessary deviation from those procedures, have an engineer or an individual knowledgeable in structural engineering first properly evaluate the deviation to consider its impact on the structure's stability.
Black and Veatch has 15 working days from receipt of the citation and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Specifically, Black & Veatch Construction, Inc., of Kansas City, Missouri, is being cited for one alleged Serious violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, with a proposed fine of $7,000, for:
- failure to provide employment or a place of employment free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm in that employees were exposed to crushing and traumatic injuries associated with working adjacent to an unstable structure created by the premature removal of its diagonal bracing.
The employer did not follow the erection procedures for the Heat Recovery Steam Generator Unit #1, Low Pressure. The removal of the diagonal bracing prior to the installation of casing compromised the stability of the structure which collapsed on February 2, 2000.
OSHA is empowered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to issue standards and rules requiring employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces and jobsites, and to assure through workplace inspections that those standards are followed.
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