Investigators with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration completed an on-site inspection of the scene of a construction accident Thursday, June 21, at Rice University in Houston where one worker was killed and seven injured when several walls collapsed at a dormitory under construction.
Severe thunderstorms, lightening and random high winds measuring more than 60 MPH were reported near the campus at the time of the incident.
Rice University spokesperson B.J. Almond said that the storm appeared to blow over the four walls. But adds, “We’re still putting together the facts.”
The accident cost the life of Juan Romero, 41, of Missouri City, Texas, after he was trapped in rubble after five interior concrete block walls toppled from the room of the structure’s second floor. Romero and the injured workers were working for Lucia Inc., Houston, performing subcontracting work for general contractor Linbeck Group LLC, Houston.
John Barnes, vice president of Linbeck in Houston, says the workers were grouting concrete block wall at McMurtry College, a 324-bed residential college scheduled to open in fall 2009.
“The exact cause of the incident is still unknown pending the release of findings from OSHA and other regulatory agencies,” Barnes says.
Four workers remain hospitalized in conditions ranging from fair to good, Barnes says.
The private university campus on 300 acres in downtown Houston is known for its architecture. The campus has been bustling with construction activity since 2006, when its board of trustees announced it would increase enrollment by approximately 30% over the next decade.
Rice University vice president of administration Kevin Kirby ordered all construction on campus to stand down Friday morning while OSHA completed its onsite investigation.