- The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) has issued its 2020 "Dirty Dozen" report of what the organization characterizes as some of the worst safety violators in the U.S.
- Construction industry firms in the report include SGL Constructors (Skanska USA, Granite Construction and The Lane Construction Corp.), which is working on a $2.3 billion expansion of Interstate 4 in Orlando, Florida, where five workers have been killed; Citadel Builders and several subcontractors that were working on the Hard Rock Hotel New Orleans when it collapsed last year; and Jacobs Engineering in relation to a coal-fired power plant project in Tennessee where National COSH said that a toxic cleanup gone wrong has killed 41 and injured hundreds of others.
- National COSH said that companies on the list were chosen based on, among other things, the severity of injuries on the project; workers' exposure to unnecessary and preventable risk; repeat citations from government safety agencies; and "activity by workers to improve their health and safety conditions."
SGL, which is performing the work on I-4 for the Florida DOT, is fast-tracking several portions of the project at the agency's direction in order to take advantage of the reduced traffic volume caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
After the last death, which was the fifth struck-by fatality, SGL evaluated its safety protocols and reportedly changed the way it girder installation.
Meanwhile, in New Orleans, city officials and the owner of the Hard Rock project, 1031 Canal Street Development, finally came to an agreement about completing demolition of the structure that partially collapsed last October. The plan is to have cranes to dismantle the structure piece by piece, but the city's Historic District Landmarks Commission still must approve the associated demolition of three nearby buildings. Once the commission agrees, demolition would take approximately six months.
Last month, OSHA cited Citadel and 10 other companies in connection with the October 2019 collapse in which three workers died. The agency proposed the largest fine, $154,214, for Heaslip Engineering and cited the firm for alleged design flaws and for not maintaining an accident prevention program. The current status of Heaslip's OSHA investigation is Abatement of Violations, Pending Penalty Payment.
Despite requests, Citadel did not respond for comment on the National COSH report. Skanska declined to provide any comments.
The Tennessee Valley Authority hired Jacobs to clean up more than a billion gallons of ash and sludge that had been released in 2008 after a waste storage pond collapsed at the Kingston, Tennessee, plant. National COSH estimated that 900 workers had been exposed to dangerous heavy metals and chemicals because of Jacobs' performance.
The engineering firm has been embroiled in project-related lawsuits, but a company representative told Construction Dive that Jacobs is "confident that the evidence will show that Jacobs did not have any connection with any of the alleged illnesses claimed by the plaintiffs."
"Jacobs is proud of its work in assisting TVA with the difficult job of managing the cleanup of the Kingston coal ash spill and is disappointed by the erroneous and misleading report regarding the cleanup by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH)," the company told Construction Dive.
None of the parties involved in the coal ash litigation were employees of Jacobs, and there has been no court finding that TVA or Jacobs caused any of the medical conditions or deaths that plaintiffs allege or that the alleged medical conditions are the result of exposure to coal ash, according to the firm.As of a May 13, none of the companies cited in the collapse, including Citadel, had contested the citations, according to OSHA's database.