The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the July deaths of two subcontractor employees in separate fatal incidents at construction sites for Amazon distribution facilities in the Philadelphia area.
The giant online retailer has had a major building program underway in the Philadelphia region since last year, said the Philadelphia Inquirer in April. Pennsylvania also is ranked eighth among states in total Amazon investment in infrastructure and staffing since 2010, according to a study the company released last month.
Eric Lara, 29, died July 27 in the collapse of a retaining wall that was being built at one Amazon construction site within Philadelphia city limits. In January, Amazon said it would develop a 94,000-sq ft distribution facility.
Lara was employed by Mayfield Site Contractors Inc., King of Prussia, Pa., the wall subcontractor at the site, according to OSHA. The project general contractor is Gilbane Building Co., the agency said in a statement.
According to an OSHA spokesperson, Lara was a laborer with no union affiliation.
A query to Mayfield was not answered. A Gilbane spokesperson said the firm “is committed to the safety and health of all those working on our project sites and we’re fully cooperating with the active investigation into the incident.”
The federal safety agency also is investigating the July 6 death of Wilmer Mejía Landaverde, 24, who worked for Trenton, N.J.-based B&C Contractors, in a fall from the roof of a planned Amazon distribution center in East Norriton, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb. The OSHA spokesperson described him as a roofer with no union affiliation.
B&C Contractors declined to comment.
OSHA identified the project general contractor as IMC Construction. Malvern, Pa. In a statement, the firm said that Mejía Landaverde had removed his safety line before the fall.
“Despite extensive safety training, inspections, procedures, instructions, safety personnel on-site and mandated safety requirements, the worker was witnessed by his co-workers removing his mandated safety line from his safety harness while on the roof, and within minutes fell,” said the company statement. “We are saddened by the accident.”
Amazon had announced in April plans to convert a former Walmart into the facility that was set to open later this year. It is estimated to be about 130,000 sq ft when complete, according to local reports.
Steve Kelly, a regional spokesman for Amazon, declined to comment to ENR on the circumstances of either accident or state the projects' construction costs. He said the retailer is cooperating with the OSHA probes.
Gilbane ranks at No. 11 on ENR's Top 400 Contractors list, reporting about $6.4 billion in 2020 construction revenue. IMC Construction ranks at No. 252 on that list, reporting $419 million in construction revenue last year.