Not an "accident": Jose Alfredo Isagirrez-Mejia, 29 suffers fatal work-related injury at construction site in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

[Updated below (9/5/14)]

Jose Alfredo Isagirrez-Mejia, 29, suffered fatal traumatic injuries on Monday, July 21 while working at a construction site in Fort Lauderdale, FL. The incident occurred on a $15 million project managed by Miller Construction Company. It’s the future site of a BMW/MINI dealership and service complex.

Local10.com reports the following about the incident:

  • a ceiling roof beam “came crashing down”
  • three workers were lowering the beam in place with a crane. “Something went wrong and it struck all three workers.”

The Sun-Sentinel reports:

  • a carpenter who was an eye-witness to the events said a crane was lowering a joist when a support gave way and knocked the men off a ladder and scaffolding
  • the incident occurred shortly before 8 a.m.
  • this is the sixth work-related fatal injury death in Broward County, Florida since June 1

The news accounts don’t indicate whether Jose Alfredo Isagirrez-Mejia, 29, was employed by Miller Construction Company or one of their subcontractors.

Describing the project, the firm’s website says:

  • the $15 million three-story facility will include 59 service bays and 3 alignment bays
  • the firm “is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the tilt-wall construction project from its earliest stages.”

OSHA will conduct a post-fatality inspection of the construction site. If the agency’s inspectors identify violations of health safety regulations, the company will be cited.

OSHA’s on-line inspection data suggest that Miller Construction Company was subject to one OSHA inspection in the last 10 years. At a project in Boca Raton, Florida, the firm received citations in April 2007 for two serious and one other-than-serious violations.  The serious violations involved inadequate fall protection and hazards in their concrete-masonry construction activities which posed a risk to workers of being impaled on protruding steel. Miller Construction and OSHA settled the case and the company paid a $3,432 penalty.

Each year, more than 200 workers in Florida are fatally injured on-the-job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 218 work-related fatalities in Florida during 2012 (most recent available data.) Nationwide, at least 4,628 workers suffer fatal traumatic injuries in 2012.

The AFL-CIO’s annual Death on the Job report notes:

  • Federal OSHA has 60 inspectors in Florida to cover more than 490,000 workplaces.
  • The average penalty for a serious violation in Florida is $1,821.

Federal OSHA has until mid-January to issue any citations and penalties related to the incident that stole Jose Alfredo Isagirrez-Mejia’s life.  It’s likely they’ll determine that the safety program of Miller Construction Company and/or their subcontractors was inadequate, and that Isagirrez-Mejia’s death was preventable. It was no “accident.”

[Update 9/4/2014: OSHA records indicate the employer's name is Structural Prestressed Industries, Inc.  The company has been the subject of one scheduled OSHA inspection in each of the years 2011-2014. The inspections in 2011 and 2012 resulted in two violations (one serious, one other-than-serios) and the firm paid $3,521 in penalties.]

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By Joe Worker (not verified) on 23 Mar 2015 #permalink