- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined Illinois demolition contractor Omega Demolition Corp. $152,433 and issued the company several safety and health violations in relation to an April accident that killed one employee and injured three others.
- The agency said an overstressed, 40-foot beam fell and crushed a 47-year-old worker while he was helping demolish a portion of a Des Plaines, IL, highway. The employee was torch-cutting steel bracing between two beams when one of them fell.
- OSHA issued Omega one willful violation citation for overstressing the beam, in addition to one other-than-serious and three serious violations. The agency also added the contractor to its Severe Violator Program, in part because it has issued eight violations over the course of 14 inspections to the company since 2004.
OSHA's Severe Violator Program, which focuses on employers who willfully or repeatedly put employees at risk, subjects companies to more aggressive monitoring and inspection protocols. Under the program, OSHA has the right to inspect any of the employer's workplaces or project sites if it suspects there are similar violations occurring. Between 2010 and mid-April 2016, OSHA added approximately 520 companies to its Severe Violators, with 60% of them coming from the construction industry. The conditions of the program permit OSHA to perform inspections at any of Omega's offices or project sites if it suspects there are violations in those locations as well.
Aside from federal action, companies in cases like these often open themselves up to the liability of a civil suit from the deceased employee's family. In Los Angeles earlier this year, a jury awarded $27 million in damages to the family of a worker killed after he fell 30 feet while building a wall at a wastewater treatment plant. The jury found that one of the defendants in the suit, Atlas Construction Supply, was responsible for $16.3 million of those damages for failing to provide the plans and specifications necessary for crews to satisfactorily secure the wall's form structures, to which 30-year-old Edgar Gonzalez was connected.
Also this year, a Texas jury awarded $54 million to a worker's family after he was killed while demolishing concrete during the 2013 renovation of Texas A&M's Kyle Field. Angel Garcia was catching the concrete with a loader when one of the pieces tipped the loader, resulting in Garcia falling 40 feet to his death.