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OSHA cites Brooklyn contractor in fatal Brighton Beach building collapse

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Federal safety regulators have found the collapse of a building under construction in Brighton Beach that killed one worker and injured four others was the result of poor construction by a Brooklyn contractor.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued citations for eleven violations to SP&K Construction, of Brooklyn, NY, following an investigation into the November 2011 collapse of a five story residential building under construction at 2929 Brighton 5th St. in Brooklyn.

SP&K Construction was pouring concrete into the fourth and third floors when the front bays of the third, fourth and fifth floors collapsed, trapping construction workers. FDNY responded to the construction site and rescued five injured men, transporting them to Coney Island Hospital where one later died.

Shortly after the incident, NYC Department of Buildings issued nine citations to SP&K Construction and said the construction company had poured the concrete floors in the wrong sequence, starting from the top floor and working down.

It was revealed a few days after the collapse that Bricolage Architecture & Design, LLC, principal architects of the building who held the building permit for the project, may have had a troubled history with the Building Department.

Inspectors from OSHA's Manhattan Area Office found that SP&K Construction failed to maintain the structural stability of the floors during the steel erection process, neither was the exterior wall framing constructed to maintain structural stability during the erection process. Some of the deficiencies found by inspectors included:

  • The structural frame was inadequately braced and secured, and was laterally unstable,
  • The exterior walls were not plumbed and properly aligned,
  • Exterior stud walls were not properly connected to header members,
  • All metal c-joists were not secured as required,
  • Nails were used in place of screws to secure steel decking to c-joists in some locations.

OSHA issued a citation for a willful violation involving the structural instability of the building, meaning a violation committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

“This employer clearly knew the steel erection was incorrect and unstable, which led to the death of one worker and the hospitalization of four others,” said Kay Gee, OSHA's area director for Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. “Had proper procedures and safeguards been followed, this fatal collapse could have been prevented.”

OSHA issued other citations for eight serious violations involving lack of fall protection training for workers on scaffolds and unprotected edges of elevated floors that exposed workers to falls of 10-40 feet; improper bracing of scaffolding; and lack of scaffold inspection by a competent individual with the knowledge to identify and authority to correct hazards. Serious violations are those with a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The company also received citations for two other-than-serious violations involving an incomplete injury and illness log.

The citations carry proposed penalties totaling $77,880.

SP&K Construction has fifteen business days to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings.