The Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Apr. 1 issued fines totaling nearly $189,000 against SGL Constructors—a joint venture of Skanska, Granite and Lane Construction—for two separate incidents on the $2.3-billion I-4 Ultimate project in Orlando.
On Sept. 28, 2019, the project’s fifth fatality occurred when a concrete beam struck an aerial lift that was being used by two workers, killing 37-year-old Ulises Jesus Corrales Ibarra and injuring the other worker. An Orlando Police Dept. incident report provided some details of the tragedy, noting that the responding officer “observed a concrete beam pinning a construction worker who appeared to be deceased” and a blue construction crane “tipped slightly on its side.”
For this incident, OSHA cited SGL Construction with four safety violations, all classified as “serious.” Each of these violations carried a proposed fine of $13,494, for a total of $53,976.
In OSHA’s description of the first alleged violation—for not following “the work plan and approved engineering drawings”—described the accident by noting: “Employees were ascending to take measurements for wood bracing during regular operations [and] were exposed to an overturned/falling concrete girder.”
Secondly, OSHA cited SGL for exposing the workers to a struck-by hazard by not training them in their native language of Spanish. OSHA reported that, additionally, the work plans and engineering drawings were only provided in English.
The agency further alleged two violations, stating that SGL “allowed employees to walk in the fall zone while a crane was attached to a suspended load;” and “allowed employees not receiving the load to walk under the load while a crane was moving a concrete girder.”
More egregious, in OSHA’s determination, was a Sept. 13 incident where an SGL employee had to be hospitalized after being struck by a large metal pipe.
The agency’s investigation allegedly found that “cylindrical materials were not stacked and blocked so as to prevent spreading or tilting,” and that “several piles were unevenly stacked on a slope and were not secured.”
OSHA proposed a fine of $134,937 for the alleged “willful” safety violation of "stacking pipes in an unsecure manner on an uneven slope."
The agency also cited Universal Engineering Sciences with a “serious” violation for the Sept. 13 incident, noting that “employees were standing within a 15-ft radius of the pile-driving crane and a stack of unsecured pipes on a sloped area weighing 7,000 pounds each, exposing them to being caught between and struck-by the pipes and crane.”
In a statement to ENR, Mark Israel, president and CEO of Universal Engineering Services, said: "We have reached a resolution of this matter. Our employee was on a work site not controlled by us. Pilings worked on by another employer slipped and traveled to the area where our employee was standing. We are thankful that our team member has recovered from his physical injuries."
The agency's proposed fine for this violation was $12,145.
SGL Constructors offered no comment on the citations. Universal Engineering Services had not yet responded to ENR’s request for comment.
Florida Dept. of Transportation spokesperson Jessica Ottaviano stated to ENR that “all parties to the contract have met to coordinate a plan of action to prevent future incidents.”
I-4 Contractor Gets More Money, Time
FDOT had previously announced, in mid-March, that it would provide the project with an additional $125 million in funding. The announcement marked a settlement of a 2018 claim made by the project’s concessionaire, I-4 Mobility Partners, that sought a schedule extension and additional funding due to “unforeseen impacts,” according to FDOT’s press release.
The settlement announcement also prioritizes the completion of the 21-mi-long project’s non-tolled general-use lanes, and moves back the completion of the tolled managed lanes from 2021 to 2022. The agency says the non-tolled general lanes will now be completed by early 2021, roughly the project’s original completion date.
In a press release, FDOT stated that the change would “best serve the nearly 200,000 drivers who depend on I-4 daily.”