The tragic death of a 22-year-old ironworker from Raymore, Mo., which spurred an investigation by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), has ended with a St. Louis-area contractor being charged with failure to provide fall protection equipment.
Eric Roach was working with another ironworker on the construction site of a Kansas City distribution warehouse in July of 2014, with the job of guiding a 26-foot-by-3-foot bundle of sheet-metal roof decking. The sheet metal was being lifted by crane while Roach’s job was to set it atop the bar joists on the 300,000 square-foot distribution warehouse. It was while Roach was performing this task that he fell approximately 30 feet to the ground.
“This young man had his whole life ahead of him. His dreams of marriage, children and exploring the great outdoors were cut short because his employer failed to provide fall protection, a violation of its own safety manual and OSHA rules,” said Marcia Drumm, OSHA’s regional administrator. “This tragedy illustrates how quickly a worker can die when fall protection is not provided, and why it’s so important.”
U.S. District Court documents show that Fastrack Erectors, the subcontractor responsible for the two ironworkers, was charged with the misdemeanor of not ensuring the ironworkers were properly secured by fall protection equipment. Fastrack was working under ARCO Nation Construction-KC Inc. on the project and broke its contract with the company by not utilizing proper safety equipment.
In January of this year, both Fastrack and ARCO received multiple citations from OSHA related to the deadly incident. Fastrack’s numerous violations include use of makeshift devices on scaffold platforms, failure to inspect fall arrest systems, failure to provide or instruct employees on the use of fall protection equipment, among others. ARCO was cited for a total of four serious violations similar to those Fastrack received. OSHA proposed a total of $511,000 in fines for Fastrack while ARCO received lesser fines totaling $19,000.
According to the St. Louis Business Journal, owner and president of Fastrack, Clayton Bragg, has yet to respond to comments regarding the misdemeanor charges.
Falls are the most common form of death in the construction industry, with 699 lives lost from fatal falls, slips or trips in 2013 alone.