OSHA has issued fines to four companies in connection with the death of a 25-year-old worker who was crushed to death at a construction site at Florida State University in Tallahassee.
Travis Miller, an employee of Miller’s Plumbing and Mechanical Inc. of Tallahassee, was killed on July 28, 2014.
Miller was sitting in an open window of an under-construction dormitory, talking to three co-workers, when an elevator came down, crushing him against the building.
An autopsy showed Miller died of crushing trauma to the torso.
Miller’s Plumbing was a subcontractor for Culpepper Construction which was heading up the construction of the multi-story dorm on the FSU campus.
OSHA issued citations to Culpepper, Miller’s and two other companies: Benchmark Erectors Inc. and Fleck Exterior Systems Inc.
Each company was cited for exposing workers to crushing hazards.
Specifically, OSHA stated:
“At the lowest landing, the enclosure on the sides not used for exit or entrance to the structure was not enclosed to a height of at least 10 feet.”
A board had been placed in the window where Miller was sitting when the elevator came down. At some point the board was removed and never replaced. OSHA says this inaction led to Miller’s death.
The violation was categorized as willful for Culpepper and Miller’s with a $70,000 fine each, and as serious for Benchmark and Fleck with a $4,900 fine each (total fines: $149,800).
In 2010, OSHA fined Culpepper for three violations related to eyewear, ladders and training requirements. The company settled the citations for $2,925.
Wrongful death lawsuit
Travis Miller’s parents have given notice of their intent to file a $15 million wrongful death lawsuit against the FSU Board of Trustees.
The family’s lawyer says the university had a duty to maintain a construction site in a manner that was reasonably safe and failed on two counts:
- Employees weren’t properly supervised, and
- The university should have taken extra safety measures because the site was dangerous.
FSU says it’s received the notice of a potential lawsuit but can’t comment further.