A Miami highway and bridge construction company is contesting $58,942 in proposed penalties from the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration after a crane collapsed leading to the death of one worker.
Joseph Bien Aime, 46, was killed and another worker, aged 52, was seriously injured in a crane collapse on December 5, 2022.
The incident occurred as the employees worked to expand a bridge along the southbound lanes of Interstate 95 between Sunrise and Broward in Fort Lauderdale as part of a $153 million, 6.7-mile Florida Department of Transportation infrastructure project.
OSHA has determined that the de Moya Group, which specializes in major infrastructure projects and serves as the prime contractor on the project, could have prevented the tragedy by following federal workplace safety standards.
"This tragedy never should have happened. A worker lost his life, and a co-worker suffered life-altering injuries because the de Moya Group failed to follow industry-recognized and federally required safety measures," said OSHA Fort Lauderdale, Florida Area Office Director Condell Eastmond.
Four serious citations were issued to the de Moya Group for failing to comply with federal safety standards and exposing employees to struck-by hazards.
In addition, OSHA issued the company an other-than-serious citation for using a crane with a broken load indicator and for not making certain that modified crane operating controls did not affect its safe operation.
The company has contested the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
According to OSHA, a 90-foot-long, 18- by 18-inch concrete pile weighing 35,000 pounds broke free of its restraints when the supporting crane shifted in unstable soil and struck a JLG lift's boom, causing the two carpenters to fall onto the road below.
Bien Aime, the father of two daughters, died, and his co-worker was hospitalized for a month due to the extent of his leg injuries.
The incident occurred around 11:45 a.m. and resulted in lengthy traffic gridlock along I-95.
Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Stephen Gollan told local media on the day of the incident, "The ground underneath the crane gave way and caused it to move in a manner that they had the pilings fall towards the boom the workers were in." He described the cause as being related to a "malfunction with the crane."
According to the OSHA investigation, the de Moya Group failed to ensure or provide ground conditions that were firm and provided adequate support for the crane, exposing employees to potential struck-by hazards from an unstable crane.
Also, the company was cited for using a Clark Lima 1500C crane for pile driving operations, with a modified swing control further exposing employees to the hazard of being struck by a crane or load carried by the crane.
Investigators found that no regular monthly inspections were being conducted on the crane. Specifically, a detailed inspection found that the windows of the operator’s cab had cracks that would have impacted the view.
Lastly, the other-than-serious violation, related to operational aids not being in proper working order and no alternative measures being implemented. OSHA investigators determined that the Clark Lima 1500C crane had a broken load moment indication (LMI) while it was being used to lift a 78-foot-long hammer/leader.
“Employers should use this tragic incident as a reminder to review their workplace safety practices and give their workers every opportunity to return to their families at the end of each workday safely,” Eastmond said.
Bien Aime's family also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the De Moya Group.