Equipment Type

FSU Fatality Leads to Fines for 4 Florida Companies

A 25-year-old employee of Miller's Plumbing and Mechanical Inc. died after being struck and crushed by a material/personnel elevator carriage not enclosed on all four sides.

January 08, 2015

A 25-year-old employee of Miller's Plumbing and Mechanical Inc. died after being struck and crushed by a material/personnel elevator carriage not enclosed on all four sides. The employee was working on a six-story residential project at Florida State University.

After an investigation of the July 28, 2014 fatality, OSHA found the employer allowed a window-frame opening in a building under construction to be uncovered, which exposed workers to the hazard of being struck and crushed by the elevator carriage as it passed within inches of the opening. OSHA then issued citations to Culpepper Construction Co. Inc., Miller's Plumbing, Benchmark Erectors Inc. and Fleck Exterior Systems Inc.—all based in Tallahassee, Fla.—for serious and willful safety violations.

"Culpepper and Miller's management acknowledged workers were exposed to a serious safety hazard, but failed to ensure all four sides adjacent to the material hoist structure were protected adequately," said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA's area director in Jacksonville. "The employers' inaction and lack of commitment to a safe workplace has caused this tragic loss."

General contractor Culpepper Construction Co. and Miller's Plumbing each were issued a willful citation for exposing workers to crushing hazards. Additionally, Benchmark Erectors and Fleck Exterior Systems were each cited with one serious violation for the same safety hazard.

A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Proposed penalties for the four companies total $149,800.

Culpepper Construction Co. provides constructing management design-and-build services. Miller's Plumbing installs and services commercial plumbing and mechanical systems. Benchmark Erectors specializes in historical, commercial and security window sales and installation. Fleck Exterior Systems installs insulation finish systems and stucco.

The companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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