A general contractor and its owner have each been charged with one count of willful violation of OSHA regulations resulting in death after a fatal incident involving a collapsed concrete wall.
Finbar O’Neill, of Paramus, New Jersey, and his general contractor company, OneKey LLC, were charged with violating OSHA regulations resulting in death. The company faces a maximum fine of $500,000 while O’Neill faces six months in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.
“Today’s charges should serve as a reminder to small business that failure to comply with safety regulations can lead to unnecessary and preventable tragedy,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a news release.
Didn’t follow engineer’s plan
In 2017, OneKey and O’Neill were hired to implement a soil compaction plan at a construction site in Poughkeepsie, New York. The plan involved piling large quantities of dirt, called surcharges, on top of the sites of three future buildings. An engineering firm designed the plan for the use of these surcharges.
However, OneKey and O’Neill didn’t follow the plan and instead built a wall to hold back one of the surcharges so workers could get started on the buildings next to it. O’Neill and his company didn’t consult with any qualified person to see if the wall could withstand the weight that would be placed on it by the surcharge.
While work was being done next to the wall, OneKey kept using construction machinery to add dirt to the surcharge pressing up against the wall. People working near the wall weren’t warned that it was a hazard. Some workers told O’Neill and OneKey that the wall wasn’t safe but they didn’t correct the problem.
On Aug. 3, 2017, workers complained that construction vehicles were driving on top of the surcharge and were adding more dirt to it. Later the same day, the wall collapsed. As it fell, one worker ran away from the collapsing wall, but couldn’t get away in time and was killed.