Saturday, April 22, 2006

OSHA Saves Lives: Building Evacuated Minutes Before Collapsing

The debate never ends. Does OSHA actually save lives, or just get in the way of business productivity. Sometimes it's a theoretical debate, but sometimes it's much easier to see:
Roof caves in just after work is halted
Half-dozen employees had been on the site

Building inspectors say they got there just in time.

They had just shut down construction of a new building for the Goddard School for Early Childhood Development, moving the work crews out from under the newly raised roof.

No more than 10 minutes later, the roof fell in and part of the walls collapsed. An OSHA investigator was on the scene, as were county inspectors. OSHA is investigating.

County Building Inspector Art Verdoorn said local contractors had their eyes on the Georgia company that was erecting the preschool on Normandy Park Road because the trusses for the roof were bowing.

Someone made an anonymous call to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration office in Cleveland and someone called Verdoorn. By coincidence, both agencies made a surprise visit to the work site a week ago Monday, just in time to issue a stop-work order before the collapse.

Verdoorn said the exterior walls were up and half the roof was on but the structure wasn't braced correctly. Verdoorn estimated a crew of six was pulled off the structure, some on the high beams and some inside, minutes before the collapse.

Standard Building Co. of Atlanta requested the building permit, Verdoorn said. OSHA records list it as a non-union company.

An OSHA spokesman in Washington said three complaints have been filed against Standard Building, two in 2005 and one in March on a job in Elyria.