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CONTRACTORS FINED $94,500 FOLLOWING FIRE AT YBOR CITY CONSTRUCTION SITE
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited four companies for safety violations following a large fire at an apartment complex construction site in Tampa's Ybor City. Penalties proposed against the four firms totaled $94,500.
According to Lawrence Falck, OSHA's Tampa area director, the fire that started at the Ybor site on May 19 consumed almost the entire apartment complex of 12 three-story wooden buildings and damaged a four-story steel frame parking garage. The project covered more than 350,000 square feet over a two-city block area.
OSHA cited Houston, Texas-based Camden Development, Inc., the project's general contractor, and three other sub-contractors who had been hired to perform work at the Tampa job site. Camden Development hired Texican Construction Corporation, also based in Houston; Texican, in turn, hired J&W Construction, operating out of Madisonville, Texas, and J&W subcontracted the work to Jose Chirino, a Tampa employer.
Following inspection of the fire, each of the four companies was cited for four serious safety violations, including: no implementation of a fire prevention plan; no fire extinguishers located in the construction buildings; unsafe operation of industrial trucks, and untrained operators of industrial trucks. Jose Chirino received an additional serious citation for moving a suspended load of wood trusses on the forks of a "lull forklift" -- a telescoping boom industrial truck -- into an overhead power line. This contact started a palm tree and grass fire that spread to a nearby building and developed into the fire that consumed the entire construction site.
Total proposed penalties were: Camden Development -- $28,000; Texican Construction Corporation -- $22,400; J & W Construction -- $19,600, and Jose Chirino -- $24,500.
"Employers are obligated to protect employees from recognized hazards on a construction site," said Falck. "If the employers had taken action to address fire hazards and unsafe operation of industrial trucks on this construction site, this fire would not have occurred. Fortunately, this time no employees were injured."
OSHA defines a serious violation as one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
The contractors have 15 working days to contest OSHA's citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Inspection of the Camden Development, Inc. apartment construction site was conducted by OSHA's area office located at 5807 Breckenridge Parkway, Suite A, Tampa, Fl. 33610-4249; telephone: (813) 626-1177.
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