WACO, Texas — An ironworker’s death at a Baylor University stadium construction site in January has prompted federal safety regulators to investigate a Dallas/Fort Worth-area construction company that has a history of past violations.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials are probing the death of Jose Dario Suarez, a 55-year-old construction worker who was working on a bridge over the Brazos River that is being built as part of Baylor’s new stadium.
Mr. Suarez was standing on an aerial lift boom, to which he was tethered, when it fell off the side of a barge into the river. Divers eventually recovered Mr. Suarez’s body, tied to the boom, 16 feet beneath the surface.
According to the Waco Tribune, it won’t be the first time that Mr. Suarez’s employer, Derr and Isbell Construction, has been investigated for safety violations. In 2008, OSHA officials cited the company, then known as Derr Steel Erection, with a $7,000 violation after rigging fell from a crane at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium construction site. Three workers who were standing on another crane became injured – one of them critically — when they jumped out of the way.
In 2009, OSHA again cited the company with a “serious” violation for exposing workers to laceration and amputation hazards with an unguarded grinder at the Cowboys Stadium worksite. The agency proposed fines of $2,000 for that violation.
An official with an Arlington Texas-based ironworkers’ union told the Waco Tribune that Derr and Isbell “is very safety minded” and said he had not heard of any safety complaints from workers about the company, which has completed ironwork on a number of giant projects, including the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, Minute Maid Park, Indianapolis Colts Stadium, and the Washington D.C. Convention Center.