Wacker contractor fined in workers’ deaths
by By GREG KAYLOR Banner Staff Writer
Mar 10, 2013 | 3913 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Inadequate training and failing to make sure a formwork system could support weight loads were the reason a contractor at the Wacker construction site in Charleston has been fined by state officials, according to reports from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

Two men died late last year at the site after a wall reportedly collapsed as they removed forms and a scaffolding platform.

Baker Concrete Construction Co. Inc. is a contractor at the Wacker Polysilicon build site.

Baker was fined a total of $10,800 for the alleged violations regarding training on the MEVA KLK 230 scaffolding, MEVA Imperial wall-form system and the “improperly fabricated, erected, supported, braced” formwork, according to the report.

Hugo Mendoza Canales and Rodrigo Trinidad Mena Luis Ochoa, fell approximately 85 feet after scaffolding gave way while the platforms and formwork system were being released on a tower being built at the Charleston work site. The accident occurred Oct. 10, 2012.

According to the report released by TOSHA, the formwork system works in “combination of a MEVA KLK climbing scaffolding system.”

“This is an engineered system that was designed to build towers. The decking of the scaffolding system is the work zone for the employees and wraps all the way around the tower,” the report findings stated.

A number of safety and protection systems are built into the overall system, including a series of locking pins.

“Based on information gathered and interviews taken it was determined the following occurred and resulted in the death of Mr. Mendoza (foreman/victim) and Mr. Ochoa. On Oct. 10, at approximately 10 p.m., four employees for Baker Concrete Construction were working on the south side of the stairwell tower in area B-244. The employees were approximately 85-feet above the lower level at the time of the accident,” the report stated.

The report noted testing had been done on the concrete wall which had been poured. The cured wall form and scaffolding were supposedly ready to be detached and “jumped” to the next level to be constructed and poured.

“Three of the employees working on the system were newly hired laborers that had only been working with the system for approximately four months. The fourth employee was the foreman of the crew and it was stated that he had worked with the system for several years. The superintendent that was over that crew had just started working on the night shift two weeks before this incident,” the report stated.

“This superintendent had never worked with the MEVA KLK 230 climbing scaffolding in combination with the MEVA Imperial wall form system, however; the responsibility to inspect the system to determine that it was being used properly and to ensure that pours were ready to be made were his. According to witness statements, it was determined the employees had gotten the OK to move the formwork on the system back away from the freshly cured concrete,” the report continued.

As employees attempted to release the system, Ochoa was “tied off” on top of the formwork to help pry away the form from the wall. As employees began to release “wedge pins” and braces, the form began to “pull away” from the wall and “popping and cracking sounds were heard.”

The report indicated according to witness statements the form continued to fall away and broke free of its support, then broke the guardrail on the scaffolding system, knocking Mendoza off. Ochoa was also tied off to the form and was dragged off as well as the form fell approximately 85-feet to the concrete pad deck below.

In conclusion, the report stated “it appears the south wall of the Imperial system was overloaded at the point where it attaches to the slide carriage and as the form pulled away from the concrete wall, it became top-heavy, broke free of the slide carriage supports whereby failing and fatally injuring two employees.

“Baker Concrete Construction, a contractor at the Wacker site, continues to mourn the loss of our two co-workers who perished last October during a construction accident. While completing work on the Wacker site, Baker fully cooperated with Tennessee OSHA in its accident investigation, which was completed last month. Last week, we amicably resolved the two citations that TOSHA issued to Baker as a result of the investigation.

“We continue to proactively address the issues identified both in our own investigation, and in TOSHA’s investigation of the accident to ensure that we provide the safest working environment for our co-workers on the Wacker site and all of our sites across the country. We remain committed to being an industry leader in safety and realizing our goal to be an incident and injury-free company,” said Robert Fox, an information officer for the company.