Tennessee Fines Contractors in Fatal Goodwill Store Wall Collapse
Four Tennessee firms have been cited for serious workplace-safety law violations and face $14,000 to $15,200 fines after two workers were killed and a third injured when a masonry wall collapsed last spring.
The companies are Solomon Builders Inc. and N&S Waterproofing LLC, both of Nashville, Thorne's Excavating Co. LLC, Lebanon, and Tayes Masonry, Smithville. Solomon was the general contractor and the others were subcontractors on a 28,000-sq-ft Goodwill store, training center and drop-off center in Hendersonville, a Nashville suburb.
Poor Training, Site Hazards Cited
Solomon, N&S and Thorne's were fined $15,200 each and cited for not training employees about the hazards of working near a masonry wall under construction, not creating a limited-access zone on both sides of the 24-ft-high wall and not bracing the wall properly.
Tayes was fined $14,000 and cited for not creating a limited-access zone and not adequately bracing the wall.
"There should have been a total of 12 braces on the inside of the wall and 12 braces on the outside of the wall," but there were only three braces inside and one outside, says the report by the Tennessee Division of Occupational Safety and Health.
N&S employee Joel Pineda Muñiz, 24, and Thorne's employee Jose Panfilo Velasco-SanAgustin, 36, were killed instantly on April 18, when strong winds hit the area and blew over the 149-ft-long wall, the report says. Jeff Costello, 44, also a Thorne's employee, suffered five broken ribs, a bruised sternum and a shattered right collarbone, it says.
When the wall collapsed, both Costello and Velasco-SanAgustin were working in an excavation parallel to, and about 15 ft from, the wall, and Muñiz was on an extension ladder, scraping and caulking the control joints on the wall's exterior.
"If a limited-access zone had been in place and enforced, the victims would not have been near the wall when it fell," the report says. Muñiz "was on the ladder and was crushed between the wall/ladder and the ground, killing him instantly. He had a caulk gun in his hand."
Velasco-SanAgustin "was in the excavation and was crushed between the wall and the ground, killing him instantly." Costello, also in the excavation and hit by the block wall, "was covered with block from his shoulders down," the report says.