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Mon June 21 2021

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Out-of-date drawings caused fatal accident on US site

10 Mar 16 A US contractor has been fined following a fatal accident that was caused by the use of out-of-date drawings for a new floor.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration found that the builder's failure to follow safety standards leads to the death of Gary Berthelot. Proposed penalties total US$79,800 (£56,160)

The design used for the wooden floor supports led to the collapse, which happened when concrete was being placed at a restaurant reconstruction project.

On 8 September 2015, the formwork collapsed during concrete placement. At the time, Berthelot and three workers employed by Great Southern Building Systems were placing additional supports beneath. Falling concrete and other debris struck and trapped the 54-year-old father of four, who had 30 years of construction experience and was the project's general contractor.

An investigation by the OSHA later found the project's original flooring plans called for a wood floor, but the contractors did not get new engineering plans for a concrete floor and used designs that could not support the weight of the concrete.

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OSHA cited Berthelot Design Systems and subcontractor, Great Southern Building Systems LLC, doing business as Bayou Steel Fabricators Inc., for safety violations related to the collapse. The agency issued citations to Great Southern Building Systems for one willful and two serious safety violations. The agency waived the citations and penalties against Berthelot, as he was the company's only employee.

"Great Southern Building Systems, LLC failed in its responsibility to protect its employees, despite being warned that the floor was unstable," said Eugene Stewart, director of OSHA's Jackson Area Office. "This tragedy could have been prevented had the employer obtained new engineering plans and followed the requirements."

OSHA issued one willful citation for exposing workers to being struck-by material, because the concrete formwork was not built to handle the load on it. Great Southern Building Systems, LLC received serious citations for not installing formwork to support the concrete floor as it was poured and not having engineering plans for the concrete floor on site.

Great Southern Building Systems, LLC, which is based in Pearl River Louisiana, has 15 business days from receipt of their citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before an independent commission.

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