The state Department of Labor has fined three contractors for their roles in a scaffolding collapse in downtown Raleigh earlier this year that killed three workers and seriously injured another.
Workers were dismantling a “mast climber” on the 11-story Charter Square building on Fayetteville Street in March when the exterior lift system collapsed.
The Labor Department concluded its six-month investigation into the accident by issuing “serious” violations and a total of $160,300 in fines to Associated Scaffolding Company Inc., Jannawall Inc. and Juba Aluminum Products Co.
“The penalties are in no way designed to make up for loss of life,” the department said in a statement.
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The collapse killed Anderson Antones de Almeida, 33; and Jose Erasmo Hernandez, 41; both of Durham, and Jose Luis Lopez-Ramirez, 33, of Clinton. Elmer Guevara, 53, of Durham survived but was severely injured.
Associated Scaffolding of Durham faces $151,900 in fines for four violations. Investigators found that company workers:
▪ Weren’t properly trained to determine the best fall-protection measures while erecting and dismantling the scaffolding
▪ Didn’t follow manufacturer recommendations when tying the scaffolding to the building
▪ Put too much weight on the scaffolding while dismantling it
▪ Weren’t properly trained to inspect the scaffolding before each shift.
The company didn’t return a phone call seeking comment.
Concord-based companies Juba Aluminum Products and Janna Wall, which employed two of the men who died, were each fined $4,200 because some of their workers weren’t properly trained to recognize hazards on a scaffold.
Civil penalties collected by the Labor Department go to the state’s Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund, which distributes the money to public schools.
The companies have 15 working days to either pay the penalties, request an informal conference with the Labor Department or contest the citations with the state Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
It’s unclear whether the companies will appeal.
Edwards Kirby, the law firm that represents the three men killed in the collapse, welcomed the citations. The firm has not filed a lawsuit.
“This is a step forward in determining why this tragedy occurred,” attorney David Kirby said in a statement. “Our clients are looking for answers.”
Associated Scaffolding was charged with three “willful serious” violations. That means, said Labor Department spokesman Neal O’Briant, “We feel pretty strongly we have the evidence to back them up.”
The department also investigated KEA Contracting Inc., which employed one of the victims, and Choate Construction, the general contractor, for their roles in the collapse. The two companies won’t be cited, O’Briant said.