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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Brooksville Crane Service Inc. and Chuck Evans Inc. for willful and serious safety violations and proposed penalties totaling $110,250 after investigating a fatal accident at a residential construction site in Port Richey, FL.
A worker, employed by framing contractor Chuck Evans Inc., was killed Oct. 9, 2000, when a beam being lifted by a crane shifted and struck him in the head. Following an investigation of the accident, OSHA cited both Chuck Evans Inc. and Brooksville Crane Service Inc., the owner/operator of the crane used to lift and place structural parts during construction of the private residence. Brooksville Crane Service received one willful citation with a $70,000 penalty for making structural changes to the crane without checking manufacturer’s specifications or limitations or consulting a qualified engineer.
"This company created the hazard responsible for the accident through its indifference to worker safety," says Lawrence Falck, OSHA’s Tampa area director. "Despite full knowledge of requirements to follow manufacturer’s specifications, this employer increased the radius and weight capacity of the crane beyond the maximum recommended for safe handling."
Falck says that, as a result of overloading the crane, its hydraulic system failed and that allowed the load to shift and strike the employee. "Had the company followed the manufacturer’s specifications or contacted a qualified engineer to determine potential consequences, this accident could have been avoided," Falck says.
Nine serious citations against Brooksville Crane resulted in additional penalties of $35,350. The serious violations included: The crane’s synthetic nylon slings showed numerous signs of serious wear and were not properly marked to identify manufacturer, rated capacity or type of material; crane parts were in disrepair; neither a load chart nor hand-signal chart was posted in the crane’s cab or available on the job site, and alterations made by the employer to the crane did not have written manufacturer’s approval prior to use.
"Just as Brooksville Crane’s action created a hazardous situation, Chuck Evans Inc.’s failure to act placed employees in harm’s way," Falck says. The company was cited for two serious violations with a penalty of $4,900 for failing to provide protective helmets to workers in areas with overhead hazards and not removing the crane’s synthetic web slings from service when they showed signs of such excessive cuts and abrasions that the red safety warning strand was visible.
OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSH Act and regulations.