Federal safety officials have slapped a Florida building contractor with a proposed $79,000 fine in connection with a collapse at a condominium building project at Hobe Sound, Fla., that killed two workers last summer.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Mac Construction & Concrete Inc., for violations discovered from the investigation of a July 22 accident. Several workers were seriously injured in addition to the fatalities.
Had the company followed standards for formwork erection and load support, the three-story building likely never would have fallen, says Luis Santiago, OSHA's Ft. Lauderdale area director.

The penalties are the latest repercussions from the accident at the Tranquility townhouses. According to published accounts of the accident, the top floor deck of the three-story building collapsed during a concrete pour, killing Lauro Marquez Hernandez, 23, and Gregorio Ruiz Avilez, 31.

OSHA often doesn't cite causes in building failure investigations, but in this case they left no doubt about what they saw as the trigger. The formwork could not support the construction loads of the concrete put in place and that accounted for $56,000 of the proposed penalty. OSHA considered the citations willful.

A $11,200 portion of the penalty related to deficiencies in the shoring.
Another $12,000 in proposed penalties were unrelated to the fatalities. Those fines covered exposing workers to falls through unguarded floor openings and from areas over six ft. high that required guardrails.

Officials of Macs Construction & Concrete could not be reached for comment about whether they would contest the penalties.

In November, the state of Florida charged the owner of Macs Construction & Concrete with workers' compensation fraud. At the time of the accident in July, the owner, Richard Meccariello, Jr., of Delray Beach, employed at least seven workers without state-mandated insurance coverage, said Tom Gallagher, Florida's chief financial officer.