NCDOL Proposes $160K in Fines for Fatal Scaffold Collapse
The North Carolina Dept. of Labor is proposing a fine of more than $150,000 for one of the contractors involved in a March 23 scaffolding collapse on the 11-story Charter Square building project in Raleigh that killed three workers. The agency is also proposing fines for two other firms—Jannawall Inc. and Juba Aluminum Products Co.—for a total proposed fine of over $160,000.
On Sept. 23, the agency announced it had cited Associated Scaffolding Co. Inc. with three alleged willful violations and one alleged serious violation of state safety regulations, for a total proposed penalty of $151,900. The willful violations—which carried proposed fines of $49,000 each—included: failure to have a competent person determine the feasibility and safety of providing fall protection for employees erecting or dismantling supported scaffolds; improper installation of the KlimerLite scaffolding system; and overloading of the system. Associated Scaffolding was also cited for not having a competent person inspect the scaffolding and related components for visible defects prior to each work shift. That serious violation carries a potential fine of $4,900.
The NCDOL's citations to Associated Scaffolding provided a description of how the fatal accident occurred, based on the agency's investigation.
"On March 23, 2015, two Jannawall employees were on the #3 MCWP installing glass panels in openings once the struts (building tie-ins) were removed," the citations read. "A KEA (temporary labor employee) was assisting an Associated Scaffolding Inc. employee with the disassembly of the #3 MCWP when the mast collapsed, causing it to fall, along with the employees on the platform, approximately 100 ft to the ground."
The three workers killed were identified as Jose Erasmo Hernandez, 41; Jose Luis Lopez-Ramirez, 33; and Anderson Almeida, 33.
The employees were tied off to the MCWP, the agency's citation noted. Additionally, the NCDOL asserted that the work platform, which had a maximum gross capacity of 2,500 pounds, was overloaded with a weight estimated at 4,227 pounds.
Associated Scaffolding did not respond to ENR’s requests for comment.
The state also issued separate citations to Jannawall and Juba Aluminum Products for not having each employee who worked while on a scaffold trained by a qualified person. In each instance, the DOL proposed a fine of $4,200.
Representatives of Jannawall and Juba Aluminum Products issued the following statement: "Juba Aluminum Products and Jannawall have worked closely with the local authorities and NCOSHA in their investigation of the tragic incident that claimed three lives on March 23, 2015, including the lives of two Jannawall team members. Regardless of the eventual resolution of the citations issued by NCOSHA, the safety of our employees is and always has been of paramount importance to Juba and Jannawall, and we will continue our efforts to ensure the health and safety of our employees and the employees of our industry partners."
The safety agency noted that it also opened inspections of KEA Contracting Inc., as well as the project’s general contractor, Choate Construction Co., but did not cite either firm.