Safety and OSHA News

Wall collapse kills worker: Construction company faces $281K fine

OSHA has fined a construction company based in New Jersey following the death of one employee and injuries to a second worker when a concrete retaining wall collapsed. 

Onekey LLC, a construction management and development company, faces $281,583 in proposed penalties for four violations:

  • a willful violation for placing construction loads on a concrete structure without determining if the structure was capable of supporting the load ($129,336)
  • a willful violation of the General Duty Clause for not protecting employees from hazards associated with a soil surcharge collapse – the employer didn’t maintain a slope of 45 degrees at the edge of the soil surcharge as per engineering design ($129,336)
  • a serious violation for not providing training to employees in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions, specifically, exposure to a crushing hazard associated with a soil surcharge collapse ($12,934), and
  • a serious violation for not protecting employees six feet or more above lower levels from falling by guardrail, safety net or personal fall arrest systems ($9,977).

One serious and the two willful violations are the maximum allowed by law.

According to local media reports, on Aug. 3, 2017, one worker was buried under concrete and dirt when the retaining wall fell. First responders pulled the man from underneath large concrete blocks while also facing the danger of a second collapse. The worker was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy determined the cause of death was “crush and blunt force injuries.” The worker was employed by a subcontractor.

The second employee was able to escape the collapse but was struck by falling debris. He was taken to a local hospital for hand and leg injuries.

Onekey has scheduled an informal conference with OSHA to discuss the citations. The other two options Onekey had were to pay the fines or contest them to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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