Sunday, November 16, 2008

Why Is A 16-year-old Working at Night

Note: See the second post on this fatality below.

Note 2: See article below showing OSHA's fines levied against the Contractor in this incident.

Why Was A Teenager Working
On a Demolition Site at Night?

The article below from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Andria Simmons is VERY disturbing relating to working anyone without proper Safety Equipment and Safety Training.

Why was a 16-year-old allowed to work on a demolition project on a school night, especially with NO SAFETY EQUIPMENT in use?

It is very obvious that Donkey Sense was in use on the site of a building being remodeled that allowed any workers to be working without proper safety equipment and no safety training having been provided. This seems to be one of the many sites all over this country that hires hispanic workers for small wages with no training so that the companies they work for can make big money and that they care nothing for the safety of their employees.

This is one incident that OSHA should use as an example and completely shut down the company this young man was working for and the owners of the site and fine them both for the maximum possible by law. There is just plain no excuse for these people being in business.

Teen dies in fall at construction site

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the deadly fall of a 16-year-old construction worker at Gwinnett Place mall this week.

A Gwinnett County police officer who arrived at the vacant Macy’s building shortly after Luis Montoya fell to his death at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday noticed there was “no safety equipment in site,” and none of the workers was wearing a hard hat. Instead, the hard hats were piled together on the second floor, a police report stated.

Montoya was tossing a step from a demolished escalator from the third floor to ground level when he lost his balance and fell over the ledge. He landed in a 5-foot-deep concrete pit at the bottom of the empty escalator well, said Ray Rawlins, an investigator with the Gwinnett County medical examiner’s office.

The teenager was working in the vacant Macy’s department store, which developer George Thorndyke is converting into a giant Asian ethnic shopping destination.

“He fell approximately 40 feet, so I don’t think a hard hat would have done much for him,” Rawlins said.

The late hours that Montoya was working on a school night are not illegal, said Elizabeth Todd, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Labor. Sixteen-year-olds can work an unlimited number of hours during the week. However, the law does not allow them to work in a “hazardous position,” Todd said.

Todd said it was difficult to say whether Montoya’s job would be considered a hazardous position without knowing his specific duties.

Generally, occupations involving wrecking and demolition are considered hazardous under U.S. labor law.

The accident site has been turned over to OSHA for further investigation. A spokesperson for OSHA’s Atlanta-East area office could not be reached Friday.

Montoya was employed by Demon Demolition, which is based in Suwanee. Neither company president Wayne Johnson nor developer George Thorndyke returned calls Friday.

A public relations company for Gwinnett Place mall issued a brief statement about Montoya’s death.

“We are extremely saddened to learn the news of his passing, and our thoughts are with his family,” the statement said.

Note: This is a followup post from Andria Simmons and Helena Olivero of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to the post above.

This post indicated that the teen that was killed was only 15-years-old. And it points out that no 15-year-old is allowed to work on construction projects in the State of Georgia.

Stepdad: Teen was unprotected

Youth died without safety equipment at construction site

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A 15-year-old Lawrenceville boy was working without any safety equipment when he fell to his death at a construction site last week, his stepfather said Monday.

Raul Torres was at work with his stepson, Luis Montoya, at the old vacant Macy’s building at Gwinnett Place mall in Duluth when Montoya toppled through an empty escalator shaft and fell about 40 feet, from the third floor to the ground floor. Torres, who was in another area removing scrap metal, said Montoya wasn’t wearing a hard hat or safety harness.

“There was none of that, no protection,” Torres said in Spanish.

“There really should have been a supervisor saying, ‘You have to put this on before you go to work.’ Someone should have been responsible for this. But there was none of that.”

The death has thrown a spotlight on his employer, Demon Demo, and the Suwanee-based company’s hiring and safety practices.

A spokesperson for Demon Demo said the company is conducting an internal investigation and is actively cooperating with OSHA’s investigation.

An initial police report says Montoya was 16. However, authorities have since determined he was only 15.

“A minor in Georgia under state law is not supposed to be working in a construction site,” according to Sam Hall, spokesman for the Georgia Department of Labor.

“[A minor] is someone 15 years of age or under,” Hall said. “Clearly, he should not have been working in a construction site.”

Demon Demo is demolishing the Macy’s department store interior because it will soon be converted into a giant Asian ethnic shopping destination.

The company was fined by OSHA for a safety lapse in 2005, and the company had a repeat violation in 2008. Both violations involved employees not wearing a “body belt” or safety harness to prevent them from falling when using aerial lifts, said G.T. Breezley, director of OSHA’s Atlanta-East area office. Demon Demo was fined $2,500 for the first violation. The second violation drew a $4,000 penalty, which later was reduced to $2,000.

Montoya’s brother, Lucky Montoya, said the family is “very angry” about the accident and believes safety violations played a role.

A police officer who arrived shortly after the accident at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday noted there was “no safety equipment in site.” No one was wearing a hard hat. Instead, the hard hats were piled on the second floor, the police report stated.

“He was a good kid,” said Lucky Montoya. “And he just wanted to go on with his life. He had dreams. He didn’t want any of this to happen.”

The family said Montoya had been expelled from Berkmar High School for disobeying a teacher at a football game. Sloan Roach, spokeswoman for Gwinnett County Public Schools, could not confirm the details of the expulsion. She said the second-year freshman left school after facing a disciplinary panel in August.

Lucky Montoya said his brother was being home schooled and he hoped to return to Berkmar in the spring. Montoya decided to get the construction job to stay busy in the meantime and save up to buy a car, his brother said.

Below is an article from the Gwinnett Daily Post by Heath Hamacher, Staff Writer listing the fines levied by OSHA.

5/6/2009 12:01:00 AM Email this articlePrint this article
Company fined in teen's death

By Heath Hamacher
Staff Writer

ATLANTA - A Suwanee-based demolition company has been fined more than $50,000 following the accident in which an underage worker fell to his death about six months ago.

The penalty against Demon Demo Inc. is the first assessed by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division under the Genetic Information Act of 2008. That act increased the maximum penalty to $50,000 for each child labor violation resulting in death or serious injury of a minor.

Fifteen-year-old Luis Montoya, of Lawrenceville, was working at the Gwinnett Place Mall in Duluth last November when he plummeted three stories down an escalator shaft. Georgia law prohibits children under 16 years old from working at construction sites.

The company was fined an additional $3,162 for failing to keep accurate records and allowing Montoya to work in a hazardous occupation. The Labor Department's Mike D'Aquino said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration levied an additional $23,800 fine, the third such safety-related fine OSHA has hit Demon Demo with since 2005.

According to documents sent to the Daily Post by the Department of Labor, Demon Demo was cited in the latest incident for 10 "serious" violations and two other violations, including requiring employees to purchase personal protective equipment that should've been provided to them at no cost.

A police report written after the incident stated that there was no safety equipment in the area where the teen was working.

While some industries allow minors to work at what are considered dangerous work sites, the tasks they may perform are very specific and compliance is closely monitored by state and federal agencies, according to a Labor Department news release.

Demon Demo was also cited for failing to properly compensate 126 workers for overtime hours. As a result, the company will be required to pay nearly $109,000 in back wages.

1 comment:

Farhan Jaffry said...

This is a big mistake by company, they should not have stop paying to their workers and secondly they shouldn't have allowed under age workers to do the job.