California Cites Schuff Steel Over Mishap at Facebook Project
Harnesses apparently saved ironworkers more severe injuries in two separate incidents
California workplace-safety officials have proposed penalties against Phoenix-based Schuff Steel Co. for hazards related to an accident in the past year during steel erection on new buildings at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park. The proposed penalties, totaling $126,000, are based on two serious and one willful violation following an accident in April in which two ironworkers fell but escaped more serious injury because they were tied off.
Another mishap occurred in July. That accident also involved an ironworker whose fall was broken by a safety harness.
The two workers injured in the first accident fell when four beams dislodged; apparently, the beams had been temporarily put in place prior to final connections. The ironworkers were standing on one of the beams when it dropped.
"There was a catastrophic failure of some kind," Menlo Park Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman told the media at the time of the accident.
State officials still are investigating the second, July 19 accident. According to media reports, it involved a worker who fell from the fourth floor.
Scott D. Sherman, Schuff Steel's vice president and general counsel, says the company will contest the citations but declined to comment further. The company takes safety very seriously in its fabrication facilities and project jobsites and has "an industry-leading experience-modification rating," he adds.
The company had an accident at its facility in Stockton, Calif., last year, when a Schuff employee was killed.
The proposed citations by the state's Division of Occupational Safety & Health, part of the state's Dept. of Industrial Relations, suggest the outlines of what may have happened in the April accident on the Facebook job. On Building 21, a section of the steel frame, consisting of two cantilever beams, two fill beams and a temporary guy-wire support system, became overburdened when the workers were working on them, according to one of CalOSHA's citations for a serious violation.
The second serious violation allegedly involved the employer allowing the use of malleable wire-rope clips for end attachments on the 5/8-in. wire-rope, plumb-up guying system to support four beams with a total combined weight of about 67,400 lb. As a result, the wire-rope guying system was placed under stresses and loads that were contrary to the manufacturer's recommendations and the engineered design, claims CalOSHA.
"As a result, on [April 26, 2017], two employees fell when the cantilever and fill-beam section of Sequence 12, Area A, collapsed, resulting in at least one employee sustaining a serious injury," CalOSHA stated.
Facebook declined to comment on the matter, as did Level 10 Construction, the project's main contractor.
CalOSHA's report states that, prior to and during the investigation of the April 26 accident, the employer didn't follow the erection plan and procedure prepared by the civil engineer of record for the erection of beams over 25 ft long. "As a result of the employer's failure to follow the erection plan and procedure … for the erection of beams over 25 feet long, an employee was seriously injured when the beams collapsed," CalOSHA claims.