One week after an 11th-floor scaffold collapsed on June 10 at a 21-story apartment construction project in Austin, Texas, killing three workers, local contractor Andres Construction Services has resumed work on the $40-million structure with “some limitations for the exterior,” says a spokesperson for the owner. It eventually will house students and faculty from the nearby University of Texas campus.
Four men were working on a scaffold between the building’s 11th and 13th floors when part of it collapsed, says Harry Evans, an Austin Fire Dept battalion chief. Two men fell about 100 ft to the ground and were pronounced dead at the scene. Another fell onto the roof of a seven-story parking garage and died a few hours later in a hospital. The fourth workers hung onto the scaffold until rescued and received minor injuries. The dead workers were identified as Wilson Cerritos, 30, and Jesus Perez, 28, both of Honduras; and Raudel Camacho, 27, of Mexico, says Terry Jackson, a consultant for owner MacArthur Management LLC, Dallas.
Andres Construction and its scaffolding manufacturer and rental firm, American Mast Climbers, Whitney, Texas, declined comment, as did the U.S. Oc- cupational Safety and Health Ad- ministration, citing ongoing investigations. It is unclear whether the scaffolding was erected, maintained and inspected by the rental firm or the contractor.
The cause of the accident has not been determined yet, but one scaffolding expert who viewed TV footage believes it was likely due to improper erection or overloading of the platforms, rather than a manufacturer’s defect. Howard Schapira, president of Action Scaffold, Phoenix, and past president of the Scaffold Industry Association, says the scaffold’s main mast remained attached to the building, while only one section fell. “The way these mast climbers are designed, the mast section is supported from the ground and goes up the side of the building and is tied into the building at different height intervals,” he explains, noting that it is a very secure design.