3 companies cited, fined for fatal scaffolding collapse in Raleigh

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Three companies involved in a fatal construction accident in downtown Raleigh have been issued citations by the North Carolina Department of Labor, the department reported Wednesday.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW 34 PHOTOS FROM THE SCAFFOLDING COLLAPSE
CLICK HERE TO VIEW 34 PHOTOS FROM THE SCAFFOLDING COLLAPSE

Issued citations were Associated Scaffolding Co. Inc., Jannawall Inc. and Juba Aluminum Products Co.

That investigation began after the fatalities at the Charter Square construction site in Raleigh on March 23.

Jose Erasmo Hernandez, Jose Luis Lopez-Ramirez, and Anderson Almeida were killed when the scaffolding they were standing on plummeted five stories to the ground. The scaffolding collapsed at the construction site on Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh, only a block from Memorial Auditorium.

John Edwards of the Edwards Kirby law firm in Raleigh released a statement saying it is representing the three men.

“We are continuing to investigate the causes of this accident and once we have completed our investigation, we’ll make a decision about the course of litigation,” Edwards said.

Edwards is a former North Carolina senator and presidential candidate who made his name as a litigator. In one 1997 case, he won a $25 million judgment in a suit that involved a girl who was injured in a swimming pool.

“This is a step forward in determining why this tragedy occurred,” said David Kirby, a partner in Edwards Kirby.  “Our clients are looking for answers.”

The Labor Department cited Associated Scaffolding for three alleged willful violations and one alleged serious violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of North Carolina with a total penalty of $151,900.

The Labor Department cited Jannawall for one alleged serious violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of North Carolina with a total penalty of $4,200.

The Labor Department cited Juba Aluminum Products for one alleged serious violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of North Carolina with a total penalty of $4,200.

“While we are glad the Department of Labor is holding these companies accountable for their role in this workplace tragedy, we had hoped the Commissioner would levy the steepest fines possible. We hope the fines are not reduced further during the appeals process. Companies whose negligence costs workers their lives should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” said MaryBe McMillan, Secretary-Treasurer of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO in a release.

Civil penalties for OSH violations are included in the Occupational Safety and Health Act of North Carolina in the General Statutes. The maximum penalty for each willful violation is $70,000 and for each serious violation is $7,000, the Department of Labor said in a news release.

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