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30-Foot Falls Cost ME Contractor $4K

Thursday, October 4, 2012

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A building collapse that sent four workers plummeting up to 30 feet to the ground in Belmont, ME, will cost a small construction company nearly $4,000 in federal fines.

The three subcontractors and one employee survived the falls, according to news reports of the July 23 accident. The employee was about eight feet up; the subs were nearly 30 feet up, authorities said.

 Warren & Warren Associates were constructing a boat storage building for Belmont Boatworks Inc. when the collapse occurred.

 Photos: Belmontboatworks.com

Warren & Warren Associates' employees were constructing a boat storage building for Belmont Boatworks Inc. when the collapse occurred. This aerial view of the site is posted on Belmont Boatworks’ website.

However, after inspecting the boat storage construction site where the collapse occurred, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration hit Warren & Warren Associates with two serious safety violations for improper bracing and inadequate fall protection at the worksite.

The Liberty, ME-based contractor in charge of the site agreed to pay $3,920, a 30 percent reduction from the original proposed penalty of $5,600, according to an informal settlement.

Warren & Warren Associates could not be reached for comment.

The Accident

The company was constructing the boat storage building for Belmont Boatworks Inc.

Workers had installed roof trusses for the facility and four or five other workers were building the rest of the unprotected, steep roof when the building fell around them about 9 a.m., according to news reports and OSHA.
An employee of Belmont Boatworks heard the noise from inside his office.

 The crews were working on a steeply pitched roof of a boat storage facility when it collapsed.
The crews were working on a steeply pitched roof of a boat storage facility when it collapsed.

“The trusses came down and took the end wall with it,” Bud Steeves told the Bangor Daily News.

The men were taken to the hospital for treatment, with the worst injury being a possible broken leg, according to the report.

OSHA documents say Warren & Warren allowed the subcontractor, to work about 30 feet above the ground without fall protection.

Owner: ‘We got Lucky’

The owner of the Belmont Boatworks, Dan Miller, did not respond to a D+D request for comment. However, Miller told the Bangor Daily News that the workers and company was fortunate that worse injuries did not occur.

“We got lucky,” Miller said. “All four guys got out ok.”

Roof Trusses Cited

According to OSHA, the collapse was due to some 22 inadequately braced and overloaded roof trusses that exposed those working on, inside and adjacent to the framed structure to serious injury or death.

Among other methods, OSHA said one feasible and acceptable way the company could have corrected the hazards would be to follow the 2011 Building Component Safety Information (BCSI) Guide to Good Practice for Handling, Installing, Restraining and Bracing of Metal Plate connected Wood Trusses.

The company also was cited for failing to provide fall protection to the workers.


Tagged categories: Construction; Health and safety; OSHA; Violations

Comment from Dennis Guy, (10/5/2012, 7:50 AM)

What good is fall protection when the building you're standing on is collapsing? Just wondering...

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (10/5/2012, 8:23 AM)

Yes, if your scaffolding or other supports are grossly inadequate, fall protection harnesses won't help. You have to follow ALL the safety procedures.

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