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Steel building collapse causes workplace injuries

Employers throughout the Colorado and the rest of the U.S. are responsible for maintaining the safety of their construction workers by ensuring the structural integrity of the facilities where work is being conducted. Otherwise, dangerous collapses may lead to serious workplace injuries. When construction companies failed to inspect ongoing construction projects, workers may suffer severe injuries by no fault of their own. New information shows that one Texas company is under fire from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after failing to properly secure a structure that was being built at a university. Fines in the matter total nearly $50,000, according to official reports.

The inspection was prompted by a June 22 incident that left four workers injured. Inspectors say that the Houston-based contracting company Gamma Construction and partner Ramco Erectors were cited for violations of occupational safety and health code. The violations occurred as employees were working to construct an equestrian shelter at Texas A&M University. In violation of industry standards, the employers fail to provide additional bolstering for steel structures and did not follow industry protocol for following an erection sequence to prevent collapse.

Ramco was subject to seven of the serious violations, as OSHA officials found that the steel structure had not been constructed in such a way to promote structural stability. Further, workers were exposed to fall hazards, and they were not properly trained to identify hazards in their own workplaces. Citations were also issued for failure to create a site-specific erection plan and remove defective equipment from the work site. Gamma Construction was cited for a single serious violation for failing to ensure that the steel equestrian shelter was being properly erected.

All Colorado construction workers deserve safe workplaces where they can be sure that a building will not collapse on them. Companies that fail to provide such safe environments may be subject to penalties from OSHA and may also be required to pay workers' compensation claims in connection with workplace accidents. Construction workers who have been injured on the job and denied workers' compensation benefits may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the company that violated their rights.

Source:  United States Department of Labor, "Houston-based employers cited by US Department of Labor's OSHA following College Station equestrian building collapse that injured four workers" Diana Petterson and Juan Rodriguez, Dec. 19, 2013

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