March 8, 2016
OSHA finds wood floor designs used for concrete led to collapse,
contractor's death at restaurant reconstruction project
Builder's failure to follow safety standards leads to fatal outcome
KILN, Miss. - When followed, safety standards save lives and painful injuries. In the construction industry, ignoring them can lead to disaster as it did for 54-year-old Gary Berthelot.
On Sept. 8, 2015, as workers poured concrete above, Berthelot and three workers employed by Great Southern Building Systems were placing additional supports beneath the concrete form when it collapsed. Falling concrete and other debris struck and trapped the father of four, who had 30 years of construction experience and was the project's general contractor. The other worker escaped the collapse as they rebuilt at a local restaurant damaged by Hurricane Isaac.
An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration later found the project's original flooring plans called for a wood floor, but the contractors did not get new engineering plans for a concrete floor and used designs that could not support the weight of the concrete.
OSHA cited Berthelot Design Systems and subcontractor, Great Southern Building Systems LLC, doing business as Bayou Steel Fabricators Inc., for safety violations related to the collapse. The agency issued citations to Great Southern Building Systems, LLC on March 2, 2016 for one willful and two serious safety violations. The agency waived the citations and penalties against Berthelot, as he was the company's only employee.
"Great Southern Building Systems, LLC failed in its responsibility to protect its employees, despite being warned that the floor was unstable," said Eugene Stewart, director of OSHA's Jackson Area Office. "This tragedy could have been prevented had the employer obtained new engineering plans and followed the requirements."
Great Southern Building Systems, LLC received serious citations for not installing formwork to support the concrete floor as it was poured and not having engineering plans for the concrete floor onsite.
The citations can be viewed at:
Based in Pearl River Louisiana, Great Southern Building Systems, LLC has 15 business days from receipt of their citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Proposed penalties total $79,800.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Jackson Area Office at 601-965-4606.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
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Release Number: 16-458-ATL (53)
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