Construction company involved in UT-Dallas accident cited, fines proposed by federal government

David Maly

Following a July crane accident at UT-Dallas that resulted in the death of two workers, the company that oversaw the related construction project has been cited and fined by the federal government.

On Nov. 20, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Harrison Hoist Incorporated of Grand Prairie with six safety violations in relation to the July accident. Proposed fines for the company total $29,400.

Harrison Hoist has until Dec. 5 to comply with the citations, request an informal conference with the administration’s Dallas-area director or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

According to an administration’s press release issued Nov. 20, the two killed workers were trying to remove the top portion of a crane’s mast when it collapsed, causing them to fall more than 150 feet.

The two workers were Terry Weaver, of Grand Saline, Texas, and Thomas Fairbrother Jr., of Austin.

UT-Dallas spokesperson Katherine Morales said they were working on a $60 million arts and technology building, which is sill under construction. She said Harrison Hoist is no longer involved in the project.

According to the press release, violations included the company’s failure to address wind speed and weather hazards, failure to adopt procedures for disassembling the crane that would have prevented collapse, failure to minimize workers’ exposure to unintended movement or collapse of the crane, failure to train workers in compliance with federal regulations and failure to adequately support and stabilize all parts of the equipment. The administration classified all violations as serious.

“A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known,” according to the press release.

Stephen Boyd, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Dallas-area office director, stated in the Nov. 20 press release that employers must take certain steps to ensure safety.

“It is imperative for employers to have procedures in place, train workers and otherwise adhere to safe work practices regarding crane use in order to protect workers who disassemble cranes,” Boyd stated in the release. 

Tammy Weaver, Terry Weaver’s wife, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Harrison Hoist in September over Terry Weaver’s death. The suit is still ongoing.

The Dallas and Philadelphia offices of Harrison Hoist did not return multiple phone requests for comment.

Printed on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 as: Company faces fines for construction deaths