CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) — Citing multiple violations, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Department of Labor proposed a $60,000 fine for Miami-based Archer Western–De Moya Group, following the death of a carpenter working in Clearwater in October.
“The Florida Department of Transportation Pinellas Gateway Expressway is one of the largest Tampa Bay area construction projects to-date. The two-part project consists of constructing two new two-lane elevated tolled roadways that will provide direct connections between U.S. 19 and I-275 and between the Bayside Bridge north of 49th Street North and I-275 in Pinellas County,” according to USDOL.
As previously covered on WFLA, the project has been under construction since August 2017.
On Oct. 6, 2021, a 47-year-old man was fatally injured while working on the Pinellas Gateway Expressway project.
A federal investigation into his death found the employer, Archer Western–De Moya JV II, had “violated safety standards” and let workers “remain in a crane load’s danger zone.”
The report does not get into specifics of the worker’s death, but makes repeated mention to a lack of training for avoiding “struck-by or crush-by hazards” involved in crane load lifting.
The report by OSHA and USDOL notes multiple violations occurred at the construction site, some of which the company “did not contest.” De Moya is now required to inform OSHA of the “abatement steps” taken to prevent further incidents, and provide documentation such as drawings or photographs of corrected conditions to the agency before the case can be closed.
“Archer Western could have prevented this tragic incident if they had taken the necessary steps to identify and mitigate safety hazards,” OSHA Area Office Director Danelle Jindra in Tampa, said. “Workers deserve to start each workday without worrying whether they will return home unharmed. Employers have an obligation to follow safety standards to protect their workers from all known hazards.”
According to documents published by USDOL, the company did not train employees “in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions” and relevant regulations for environmental hazards that could expose workers to illness or injury. Additionally, on Oct. 6, 2021, the report said the employer did not provide training to workers about controls to avoid hazards involved in “cutting or snapping concrete pile process, exposing the employee to struck-by or crush-by hazards.”
That violation alone resulted in a proposed $10,360 penalty, which would be due by April 28, 2022.
Another violation at the Pinellas Gateway project site involved the employer not making sure “rigging equipment had permanently affixed and legible identification markings.” The report said that on or before the date of the incident for the fatality, a wire rope sling’s tags were damaged, exposing employees to “struck-by or crush-by hazards.”
The proposed penalty for that violation was also $10,360 due by April 28.
According to the report, the Pinellas Gateway project foreman and crane operator “did not follow the crane manufacturer procedures,” and did not warn workers of the danger zone of a crane load, nor did they wait to make sure employees were not in that danger zone before “applying tension to the load” and exposed employees to “struck-by or crush-by hazards.”
For that violation, a proposed penalty of $14,502 was listed, with an April 28 deadline.
Another violation was reported for crane operation issues. According to the report, the crane operator “used the crane to pull the load sideways when breaking the tie wire that was used to make a lasso or an open loop around the pile, exposing employees to struck-by or crush-by hazards.”
Another proposed penalty of $14,502 by April 28 was reported for the violation.
The final citation filed against Archer Western–De Moya was split into two portions, though only one portion had a proposed penalty due, another $10,360 by April 28.
The split citation’s parts consisted of a focus on hand signals used at the construction site. According to the report, the hand signals used were “non-standard.” The report notes that non-standard hand signals must be agreed to by all working on an operation before conducting a lift. In the Oct. 6, 2021 incident, the signals were not agreed to by the operator and a signal person beforehand, leading to employees becoming exposed to “struck-by or crush-by hazards.”
The second half of the final citation said the employer did not provide training to employees to qualify the signal person before they directed the crane operator, which further exposed employees to struck-by or crush-by hazards. As a result of the citations, the Department of Labor proposed a total of $60,084 in fines to be paid by the company to OSHA, in addition to corrections on site to prevent further injuries or fatalities.
If debt amounts are not paid within a 30-day period, the report said interest charges will be assessed at an annual rate. Current rates are set at 1%, though delinquent charges may go as high as 6% per year, from the date a debt becomes delinquent.
The USDOL may also charge additional fees for administrative costs, if debts become delinquent.