Contractors failed to properly secure and inspect columns and other structural elements in a Miami Dade College garage that collapsed during construction last year, federal job-safety officials said in issuing citations against five companies on Wednesday.
Four workers died and seven others were injured in the Oct. 10 collapse at the college’s Doral campus.
The brief citations filed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration do not explicitly blame the collapse on those errors and contain no comprehensive examination of the cause. That explanation will come later in a detailed report compiled once the contractors have had a chance to reply to the agency’s findings, OSHA and people familiar with the process said. The college is also conducting its own probe.
But the citations appear to bolster claims outlined by attorneys handling several lawsuits filed by victims of the collapse and their families. The attorneys say that contractors, working under a tight deadline and rushing to finish the job, made a litany of mistakes, including failing to cement the base of at least one column as required by plans. The defect was not detected in inspections, they say.
When a crane struck the garage, the unsecured column shifted, probably helping precipitate the collapse two days later, attorney Ervin Gonzalez said in a recent court hearing.
“There is already enough in these reports to verify that we’re on the right track,’’ said Stuart Grossman, who is representing several victims and collaborating on a private investigation with Gonzalez and attorney Alan Goldfarb. “I am obviously shocked at the findings, but they’re exactly what I suspected. This was a misadventure from start to finish, and the lives of these families will never be the same.’’
OSHA issued fines ranging from $4,900 to $7,000 against the general contractor, Ajax Building Corp., and four subcontractors. The amount of the fines is set by federal statute.
The citations say:
• Ajax failed to ensure the garage was properly erected and inspected;
• MEP Structural and Inspections, which was responsible for inspections, did not conduct required inspections on 18 columns;
• Florida Lemark Corp., the grouting contractor, failed to grout, or cement, the bases of two columns;
• Coreslab Structures Miami, which fabricated structural components, failed to ensure the bases of those two columns were properly grouted;
• Solar Erectors US, the erecting contractor, failed to ensure columns were properly grouted and failed to perform required welds on structural elements, including horizontal supports attached to the column with the missing grouting. The company also failed to provide adequate temporary shoring of structural pieces and walls to prevent collapse until they could be permanently secured.
Coreslab and Solar Erectors are corporate siblings.
In a statement released through a spokeswoman, the general contractor said: “Ajax continues to actively cooperate with OSHA in its review through the informal conference process, and out of respect for that process we will reserve any comment until the review is concluded.’’
Representatives of the four subcontractors could not be reached Wednesday for comment.
Miami Dade College, which is not a subject of the OSHA investigation, also declined to address the citations. Though the school had commissioned the project, it is not legally liable for the collapse because the garage was not finished and had not been accepted by MDC, victims’ lawyers agree.