SJ&L Cited in Heat-Related Death

Feb. 7, 2024
33-year-old worker died in "brutal" heat.

A concrete finisher working for SJ&L General Contractor died unnecessarily after an extended period working in “brutal” head, according to an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA cited the Alabama contractor for exposing the worker and 18 others to hazards associated with high heat on July 28, 2023, while working 10-hour shifts.

OSHA said the heat index was close to 107 F and humidity was 85% at the site. OSHA fined the contractor $16,131. It has 15 days to respond. SJ&L was acquired by Construction Partners in January 2024, according to published reports, and will integrate SJ&L alongside Wiregrass Construction Co.

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The 33-year-old worker collapsed at a Huntsville, Alabama, job site after showing “clear signs” of heat illness, according to OSHA. Workers were hand forming concrete curbs when the coworkers observed the affected worker stumbling, talking incoherently, and eventually vomiting before becoming unresponsive. Though employees provided first aid and paramedics transported the worker to the hospital, the worker died two hours after being admitted.

“Had the employer ensured access to shade and rest in this brutal heat, this worker might not have lost their life and would have been able to end their shift safely,” said Joel Batiz, OSHA area office director in Birmingham, Alabama, in a statement. “Regardless of the season—summer or winter—employers must establish rest cycles, train workers in identifying signs and symptoms of weather exposure, ensure workers have time to acclimate to temperatures, and implement and follow safety plans and ensure those plans are monitored. If not, weather conditions can have severe—and sadly, sometimes fatal—consequences, as they did in this case.”