Personal Injury

OSHA Says Incompetence Played a Role in I-95 Worker Deaths

unsafe trench OSHA photo OSHA Says Incompetence Played a Role in I 95 Worker DeathsThe U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said incompetence played a role in the deaths of two construction workers on an I-95 highway project in Miami earlier this year.

Abel Orlando Zuniga-Fajardo, 37, and Osman Aldubin Montalvan-Ardon, 33, were crushed to death Feb. 4 when a section of concrete highway barrier collapsed into a trench in the center median where they were working to remove a storm drain system.

Miami Fire and Rescue declared both men dead at the scene of the deadly collapse, according to the Miami Herald.

OSHA investigators proposed that Archer Western Construction, which employed the two men, pay $33,259 in fines for safety violations that contributed to the deadly workplace accident.

Atlanta-based Archer Western is part of the Walsh Construction Group, which is headquartered in Chicago.

OSHA cited Archer Western for three serious violations and proposed that the company pay the maximum allowable penalty for two of them.

The agency proposed the maximum fine of $12,934, the maximum allowed for “exposing [workers] to struck-by and/or caught-between hazards when performing trenching work in a trench that was not inspected by a competent person prior to work commencing and as the work progressed for any hazards associated with the trench.”

OSHA also proposed the maximum fine of $12,934 because workers were “exposed to struck-by and/or caught-between hazards when performing trench work adjacent to and below a concrete barrier wall that was not shored, braced and/or underpinned.”

The third citation carried a penalty of $7,391 for exposing workers “to struck-by and/or caught-between hazards when performing trenching work prior to being provided with a training program that would enable them to recognize and avoid the hazards associated with trenching.”

According to the Miami Herald, OSHA used the word “competent” in April of last year when it cited Archer Western for safety failures that led to a worker falling 30 feet and suffering “multiple fractures” at a work site in Tampa. OSHA investigators found the accident occurred because a bracket scaffolding wasn’t properly attached.

OSHA rules mandate that scaffolding may only be assembled, moved, dismantled, and altered by “competent” workers who are trained and qualified for such work.

Other sources: Safety Lapses Cause Trench Cave-In Deaths