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Steel Company Charged in Deadly Fall

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

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A structural steel subcontractor faces a criminal charge in connection with a 22-year-old apprentice’s falling death.

DNRB Inc., doing business as Fastrack Erectors, of Pacific, MO, was charged with failing to provide fall-protection equipment as required by Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations leading to the death of Eric Roach, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri Tammy Dickinson announced Nov. 10.

structural steel construction
©iStock.com / zhengzaishuru

Fastrack is a steel erection company specializing in structural steel construction.

The misdemeanor charge carries a maximum fine of $500,000 or up to six months in prison, according to a spokesman in the attorney's office who also said that a fine was more likely because the charges were filed against a company.

Roach died July 25, 2014, after he fell more than 30 feet while standing on a nine-inch-wide steel girder on a building under construction in Kansas City, MO.

Life Cut Short

"This young man had his whole life ahead of him. His dreams of marriage, children and exploring the great outdoors were cut short because his employer failed to provide fall protection, a violation of its own safety manual and OSHA rules," Marcia Drumm, OSHA's regional administrator, said in January after the federal agency hit the company with seven willful and three serious violations, carrying $511,000 in penalties.

"This tragedy illustrates how quickly a worker can die when fall protection is not provided, and why it's so important."

OSHA also proposed $24,000 in fines against the general contractor on the project, ARCO National Construction-KC Inc. Both companies have contested the fines.

About the Company

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Fastrack was a subcontractor in the construction of a 300,000-square-foot distribution warehouse.

Fastrack is an American Institute of Steel Construction-certified steel erection company that specializes in structural steel, miscellaneous steel, pre-engineered metal buildings, ornamental metal handrail, and precast installation. The company supplied on-site supervisors (who are based in the St. Louis area) while the ironworkers were hired from the union local in Kansas City.

Deadly Fall

On July 24, 2014, two Fastrack ironworker employees were receiving a bundle of roof decking sheet metal and setting it on top of the building’s bar joists.

The employees’ task required them to guide the decking bundle, which measured approximately 26 feet by 36 inches, to land it. The employees accessed the top of the building from a scissor lift and walked approximately 15 feet along a joist without wearing any fall protection, prosecutors said.

They walked on trusses that were nine inches wide, or bar joists which were five inches wide, according to the attorney’s office. Other ironworkers, who were also not using fall protection, secured the decking to the trusses with screws and welds, the prosecutors alleged.

Fall Protection Agreement

The contract between the general contractor and Fastrack required that Fastrack “personnel who are working or present at heights in excess of 6 feet shall be provided, by (Fastrack) adequate fall protection,” according to the prosecutors announcement.

Fastrack allegedly failed to enforce the use of fall protection.

OSHA
OSHA

The subcontractor is charged with failing to provide employees with fall protection equipment. Falls are the leading cause of death in construction.

Both foremen on the site were told, or questioned, about the lack of fall protection equipment, the charging document alleges. At least one of the foremen, prosecutors allege, was working on the decking in the immediate area of the employees without fall protection himself and failed to enforce the use of fall protection by the employees.

Federal statutes require that each employee engaged in a steel erection activity who is on a walking/working surface with an unprotected side or edge more than 15 feet above a lower level shall be protected from fall hazards by guardrail systems, safety net systems, personal fall arrest systems, positioning device systems or fall restraint systems.

The company has declined to comment on the case.

Call for Safety

Roach's death was the eighth at that point in the year for the union, the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Ironworkers stated on its website.

"Eric's life and death should serve to inspire us in our continued commitment to 'Zero Fatalities' with safety as our number one priority," the union stated.

"No brother or sister ironworker should die at work. See Something, Say Something. Hazard awareness and intervention is how we can protect ourselves and each other."

   

Tagged categories: Business management; Business matters; Criminal acts; Ethics; Fall protection; Laws and litigation; OSHA; Steel

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