OSHA Cites Contractor in Deadly Crane Incident

April 20, 2022

A federal investigation into how a 47-year-old carpenter was fatally injured on Oct. 6, 2021, at the Pinellas Gateway Express project in Clearwater, Florida, found his employer violated safety standards by allowing workers to remain in a crane load’s danger zone.

The incident occurred as the employee of Archer Western – De Moya JV II, along with five other employees, worked inside a trench box cutting concrete piles used to build footers for elevated lanes of the expressway.

U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) determined Archer Western failed to follow required safety standards and provide adequate training and supervision while workers used a gas-powered chop saw to cut concrete piles. Inspectors determined that the concrete pile was attached to a crane with a damaged wire rope sling. During the cutting, the pile broke free and struck the worker in the chest, pinning him against the wall.

“Archer Western could have prevented this tragic incident if they had taken the necessary steps to identify and mitigate safety hazards,” said OSHA area office director Danelle Jindra in Tampa, Florida. “Workers deserve to start each workday without worrying whether they will return home unharmed. Employers have an obligation to follow safety standards to protect their workers from all known hazards.”

OSHA investigators cited Archer Western – De Moya JV II for exposing workers to struck-by and crushed-by hazards due to:

  • Allowing workers to remain within the danger zone while tension was applied to a crane’s load in direct contravention of the crane manufacturer’s procedures.
  • Failing to train workers on how to recognize and avoid unsafe working conditions and train or qualify the signal person prior to directing crane operation.
  • Failing to ensure hand signals between the crane operator and the signal person were agreed upon before conducting a lift.
  • Using a wire rope sling with damaged capacity information tags.

The agency proposed $60,084 in penalties.

Archer Western – De Moya JV II is a joint-venture between Chicago’s The Walsh Group, its subsidiary Archer Western of Atlanta, and The De Moya Group Inc. of Miami. The Florida Department of Transportation Pinellas Gateway Expressway is one of the largest Tampa Bay area construction projects to-date. The two-part project consists of constructing two new two-lane elevated tolled roadways that will provide direct connections between U.S. 19 and I-275 and between the Bayside Bridge north of 49th Street North and I-275 in Pinellas County.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Source: OSHA Region 4