Employer of worker who fell to his death in Raleigh has history of 'fall problems'

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comJanuary 24, 2014 

— A Youngsville construction company that employed a worker who fell to his death from a five-story scaffold Thursday has been cited twice in recent years for safety violations involving scaffolding and protecting workers from falls, according to the state Department of Labor.

Gabriel Andrade died late Thursday morning after he fell from a scaffold at an apartment complex under construction on Goodstone Drive, near the intersection of Spring Forest and Louisburg roads in North Raleigh.

The Labor Department’s preliminary findings indicated Andrade was wearing a harness and lanyard but that he unhooked the lanyard to lean outward to install a soffit vent, said department spokesman Neal O’Briant.

Andrade, 30, worked for Exterior Recovery Inc., which specializes in vinyl siding and remodeling, including roofing, decks, windows and doors, according to its website.

O’Briant said the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires construction companies to provide health and safety training and that there should have been someone on site to ensure that workers were following the rules. It’s not clear whether the company was in compliance.

O’Briant said Exterior Recovery Inc. was cited by state labor inspectors twice in recent years. The most recent was last February when inspectors fined the company $1,000 for violations involving its scaffolding at a construction site. The company eventually reached a settlement with the state, and the fine was reduced to $750, O’Briant said.

O’Briant said violations involving scaffolding safety typically relate to “fall problems” created by the lack of railings to protect workers in the absence of harnesses.

Labor officials also fined the company in April 2012 for “fall problems.” The company had to pay a $600 penalty in that instance, O’Briant said.

William O’Neal, the president of Exterior Recovery, said Friday that “my heart goes out to the family. That’s about all I can say right now.” He declined to comment further.

The Labor Department announced late Friday that it was widening the scope of its investigation to include the construction site’s general contractor, South Atlantic Construction Co. of Raleigh. O’Briant said it’s standard procedure to look at not only the worker’s employer but also other employers at the construction site.

South Atlantic was last cited by state labor safety inspectors in May 2005 when the company was fined $2,000 and required to improve accident prevention procedures and safety training. The company reached a settlement with the state that resulted in the elimination of the fine, O’Briant said.

O’Briant said state labor officials expect to complete their investigation of the accident in the next three to four months. News researcher Peggy Neal contributed to this report.

McDonald: 919-829-4533

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