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Contractor cited in fatal concrete floor collapse


A Louisiana contractor has been cited and is facing proposed penalties of $79,800 from federal workplace safety regulators for a fatal floor collapse.

In September 2015, 54-year-old Gary Berthelot was killed when he was struck and trapped by falling concrete and other debris as he and other workers were rebuilding a local restaurant damaged by Hurricane Isaac, according to a news release issued on Tuesday by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

An agency investigation found that the project's original flooring plans called for a wood floor, but were later changed to include a concrete floor and the contractors were not supplied with updated engineering plans. Subsequently, the contractors used designs that could not support the weight of the concrete.

OSHA cited general contractor Berthelot Design Systems, but waived the citations and penalties because Mr. Berthelot was the only employee of the company, according to the press release.

The agency cited Slidell, Louisiana-based Great Southern Building Systems L.L.C., doing business as Bayou Steel Fabricators Inc., for one willful violation for exposing workers to being struck by materials and two serious safety violations for not installing formwork to support the concrete floor as it was poured and not having engineering plans for the concrete floor onsite, according to the release. Great Southern is facing proposed fines totaling $79,800.

“Great Southern Building Systems L.L.C. failed in its responsibility to protect its employees despite being warned that the floor was unstable,” Eugene Stewart, director of OSHA's Jackson, Mississippi, area office, said in a statement. “This tragedy could have been prevented had the employer obtained new engineering plans and followed the requirements.”

A company spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment.

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