Signal company

Florida company responsible for worker’s death in Clearwater, DOL says

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – Citing multiple violations, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Department of Labor have proposed a $60,000 fine to Miami-based Archer Western Group – De Moya , following the death of a carpenter working in Clearwater in October.

“The Florida Department of Transportation’s Pinellas Gateway Freeway is one of the largest construction projects in the Tampa Bay area to date. The two-part project involves constructing two new two-lane elevated toll roads that will provide direct connections between US 19 and I-275 and between the Bayside Bridge north of North 49th Street and I-275 in Pinellas County,” according to USDOL. .

As previously covered on WFLA, the project has been under construction since August 2017.

On October 6, 2021, a 47-year-old man was fatally injured while working on the Pinellas Gateway Expressway project.

A federal investigation into his death found that the employer, Archer Western – De Moya JV II, had “violated safety standards” and allowed workers “to remain in the danger zone of a crane load.”

The report does not go into the details of the worker’s death, but mentions several times a lack of training to avoid the “risks of collision or crushing” associated with lifting loads by crane.

The OSHA and USDOL report notes that multiple violations occurred at the construction site, some of which the company “did not dispute.” De Moya is now required to notify OSHA of “mitigation measures” taken to prevent further incidents and provide documents such as drawings or photographs of the corrected conditions to the agency before the case can be heard. closed.

“Archer Western could have prevented this tragic incident had they taken the necessary steps to identify and mitigate safety risks,” said OSHA Regional Office Director Danelle Jindra in Tampa. “Workers deserve to start each working day without worrying about whether they will get home safe and sound. Employers have an obligation to follow safety standards to protect their workers from all known hazards.

According to documents released by USDOL, the company failed to train employees “in the recognition and avoidance of hazardous conditions” and relevant regulations on environmental hazards that could expose workers to illnesses or injuries. wounds. Additionally, on October 6, 2021, the report states that the employer failed to provide training to workers on controls to avoid hazards associated with the “process of cutting or breaking concrete piles, exposing the employee to risk of collision or crushing”.

This violation alone resulted in a proposed penalty of $10,360, which would be due by April 28, 2022.

Another violation at the Pinellas Gateway project site involved the employer failing to ensure “rigging equipment had permanently affixed and legible identifying marks”. The report says that on or before the date of the fatal incident, the tags on a wire rope sling were damaged, exposing employees to “collision or crush hazard.”

The proposed penalty for this violation was also $10,360 due April 28.

According to the report, the foreman and crane operator at the Pinellas Gateway project “did not follow the crane manufacturer’s procedures” and did not alert workers to the danger zone of a crane load, or wait to ensure that the employees were not in danger. area before “applying tension to the load” and exposes employees to “risks of collision or crushing”.

For this violation, a proposed penalty of $14,502 has been listed, with a deadline of April 28.

Another violation was reported for crane operation issues. According to the report, the crane operator “used the crane to pull the load aside when the tie wire used to make a lasso or open loop around the pile broke, exposing employees to the risk of collision or crushing”.

Another proposed penalty of $14,502 to April 28 was reported for the violation.

The final citation filed against Archer Western–De Moya was split into two parts, although only one part had a proposed penalty due, another of $10,360 by April 28.

The parts of the split quote consisted of a focus on the hand signals used on the construction site. According to the report, the hand signals used were “non-standard”. The report notes that non-standard hand signals must be accepted by everyone working on an operation before performing a lift. During the incident on October 6, 2021, the signals had not been accepted by the operator and a signalman beforehand, which exposed the employees to “risk of collision or crushing”.

The second half of the final citation stated that the employer failed to provide training to employees to qualify the flagman before directing the crane operator, which further exposed employees to the risk of collision or crush. As a result of the citations, the Department of Labor proposed a total of $60,084 in fines to be paid by the company to OSHA, in addition to on-the-spot corrections to prevent further injury or death.

If debt amounts are not paid within 30 days, the report indicates that interest charges will be assessed at an annual rate. Current rates are set at 1%, although late payment fees can be as high as 6% per year, counting from the date a debt becomes delinquent.

USDOL may also charge an additional fee for administrative costs, if debts become unpaid.