Thursday, April 29, 2004

OSHA Fines Atlantic City Garage Collapse Contractors

OSHA has cited four contractors in the Atlantic City Tropicana parking garage collapse that killed four construction workers last October. (here and here)

Fabi construction received the largest fine, $98,500. Fabi received one "willful" violation, punishable by a $70,000 fine.
Workers on the project reported cracks radiating at 45-degree angles from columns weeks before the collapse, but no one acted on the warnings, Gary Roskoski, OSHA area director said.

"Connecting horizontal steel to the vertical (components) is a basic construction engineering design, very basic. It's Engineering 101,'' he said.

Robert J. Mongeluzzi, a lawyer representing the families of two victims, said: "This was a death trap and an accident waiting to happen.''
The families of the victims were not impressed with the fines:
To the victims' families, the safety citations issued against contractors Thursday for the Tropicana Casino and Resort parking garage collapse don't add up to much.

About $30,000 per life, to be exact.

"Thirty thousand dollars a man ain't (expletive)," said an angry Ed Wittland, 34, whose father died in the collapse. "Thirty grand? Come on. It's ridiculous."
Happily, of course, the companies didn't do anything wrong:
Fabi called the citations an "unproven allegation which in no way represents a determination of the actual cause" of the collapse.

In a statement, Fabi officials said: "At all times during the construction Fabi addressed all safety requirements, including constructing the garage in accordance with the approved plans and procedures."

Keating officials, too, said the findings did not point to a "clear-cut" cause. "We feel there is still much information to be gathered and analyzed," they said in a statement. "It is our intention to appeal this specific citation as we continue that important process."

Officials at Site Blauvelt said they, too, would appeal. "We think the citation is unfounded and filed erroneously," said Dan Sell, vice president of human resources for the company.

Officials at Mitchell Bar Placement could not be reached for comment.
I haven't seen any indication about whether or not OSHA is seeking a criminal prosecution. OSHA's press release is here.