GLF Construction Corp. has agreed to pay $42,000 in penalties to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as the result of an accident that killed an 18-year-old who had just started working on a Taylor County, Fla., bridge project earlier this year. OSHA officials told ENR Southeast that GLF signed an Informal Settlement Agreement on June 30.
According to OSHA, on Jan. 16, 2014, a nearly 1,800-pound Acrow bridge panel fell upon and killed David Kimberl while he was helping to dismantle a section of the Aucilla River Bridge in Lamont, Fla. At the time of the incident, Kimberl had only been on the job for one week and had never before worked in bridge construction, according to OSHA.
"This tragedy could have been prevented if the employer followed proper safety procedures to secure the bridge panels from falling over," Brian Sturtecky, OSHA's area director in Jacksonville, stated in a June 19 news release. "This young man didn’t even earn his first paycheck from GLF Construction when he paid the ultimate price of working on a mismanaged project."
Originally, on June 5, OSHA cited GLF for 14 "serious” safety violations, and proposed penalties totaling $72,000. According to OSHA, the agency’s Informal Settlement Agreement signed June 30 with GLF enacts a total fine of $42,000 for seven associated violations.
Four of the violations included in the final agreement were deemed "serious" and carried fines of $7,000 each. These violations included:
· GLF employees failed to secure and dismantle Acrow bridge panels according to standard company procedure, exposing workers to a struck by/crush hazard.
· Crews used a crane with wire rope slings that lacked identification markings, exposing workers to a struck-by hazard. Also, the crane and a forklift used by crews utilized synthetic web slings that had "snags, punctures, tears and cuts," creating a struck-by hazard.
· A third violation resulting in a $7,000 fine stemmed from GLF's failure to use a fall-protection system on a trestle that had "floor holes from 1 to 3 feet wide."
· The fourth $7,000 fine resulted from contractor crews making additions to the company's forklift without the manufacturer's approval.
OSHA also cited GLF for using untrained workers to operate equipment; and for not using stairways or ladders at certain access points.
The Kimberl family's attorney, Sidney Matthew of Tallahassee, said he has filed a notice of intent to sue both GLF and the Florida Dept. of Transportation (FDOT). Previous reports indicated that the family will seek $10 million in damages. According to Matthew, that figure comes from FDOT's requirement that contractors maintain insurance policies valued at $10 million.
Matthew, who expects to file the lawsuit by September, says the $42,000 in fines is a "drop in the bucket" for GLF, which is a subsidiary of Italy-based Grandi Lavori Fincosit SpA. He added that there have not been any talks with the contractor about a settlement.
"We'll pursue them in court and bring them to the bar of justice," he says, adding: "You don't see this type of accident without gross recklessness." Matthew further alleged that Kimberl had never received any safety training while working for GLF.
Contacted by ENR, a GLF representative in Miami had no comment. OSHA says the contractor has fully paid the $42,000 in fines.