North Carolina Scaffolding Collapse Results in Three Worker Deaths, Labor Department Fines
Three companies have been had fines levied against them by the North Carolina Department of Labor in conjunction with scaffolding collapse of a construction project in Raleigh, North Carolina. The scaffolding collapse, which was originally in place as part of an ongoing downtown Raleigh construction project concerning a high-rise building, resulted in the death of three employees.
The companies facing fines include Associated Scaffolding Co., which now is subject to $151,900 in fines assessed by the North Carolina OSHA Act, found was by state officials to have violated four labor laws, with investigators describing the violations as serious and willful infringements of outstanding North Carolina laws. Additionally, the two remaining companies involved in the investigation are now subject lesser, but serious fines of $4,200 in response to violations that contributed to the deaths of three workers, while injuring a fourth.
The incident in question resulted in the collapse of exterior scaffolding pieces known as a mast climber scaffold, which were erected and in the process of being dismantled at the time of the collapse as part of ongoing construction at the Charter Square high-rise, recently opened in June of 2015 in downtown Raleigh. OSHA investigators have charged that Associated Scaffolding Co. was specifically subject to fines of $49,000 for willful and serious violations of failure to provide adequate workplace personnel to ensure compliance with scaffolding safety regulations, failure to employ braces per manufacturer specifications for scaffolding materials, and failure to abide by scaffolding load-weight recommendations. An additional penalty of $4,900 was assessed for workplace safety violations relating to failure to inspect scaffolding during ongoing construction projects. State labor officials also cited and fined Jannawall and Juba Aluminum Products for failure to provide competent and certified personnel to supervise and train employees utilizing scaffolding equipment at the worksite. Per North Carolina labor laws, willful violations carry a maximum penalty of $70,000 per instance, with serious violations carrying fines of up to $7,000. All three companies are expected to appeal the state’s decision. State investigators, while initially considering the possibility, declined to assess fines against two other companies, Choate Construction and KEA Contracting, as part of the resolution to the workplace safety investigation.
The workers in question suffered fatal injuries during the collapse on the 23rd of March, with a fourth worker being seriously injured. Those deceased as part of this unlawful scaffolding project include Anderson Almeida of Durham, Jose Erasmo Hernandez of Durham, and Jose Luis Lopez-Ramirez of Clinton, with Elmer Guevara sustaining serious injuries during the aftermath of the scaffolding collapse as well.