Fatal impalement in South Beach hotel project might cost companies $87,000 in OSHA fines

A Doral company and the Florida arm of a New Jersey company face a combined $87,327 in federal penalties from December’s fatal impalement of a construction worker in Miami Beach.

The Department of Labor announced the proposed fines Friday.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration split the financial blame almost equally between Doral’s Ga & L Construction ($43,569) and The Rinaldi Group of Florida ($43,758), an offshoot of Secaucus, New Jersey-based The Rinaldi Group.

The Rinaldi Group says on its website that it handled the restoration of the Collins Park Hotel at 2000 Park Ave., which was where the tragedy occurred on Dec. 17.

OSHA’s website description says “an employee was retrieving cement blocks from a crane basket to place them in two locations where a wall was being built. The employee was walking on some plywood that was not supported underneath and the employee fell approximately 40 feet to a set of rebar that impaled him, killing him.”

Ga & L Construction, incorporated by Jose Arellano aka Jose Gabriel Arellano Eksmmeiro in September, filed for dissolution 11 days after the crash. The company address changed from room M-709 in Nuvo Suites hotel on Northwest 107th Avenue to an apartment on Northwest 64th Terrace.

Ga & L’s Citation and Notification of Penalty included fines for:

Not inspecting the site often enough, as evidenced by not seeing “another contractor had laid plywood floor decking that extended beyond the wooden support beam.”

Workers on the fifth floor being “exposed to a 40-food fall hazard while performing carpentry and general labor work from a working surface not having the strength and structural integrity to support employees safely.”

Those same workers “storing cement blocks units on a plywood deck floor without fall protection equipment.”

Impalement hazards created by workers toiling above uncapped rebar.

Slip, trip and fall hazards from “Construction debris and building material stored all over the work floor.”

Among the violations on The Rinaldi Group’s Citation and Notification of Penalty were:

Not inspecting the site often enough for “missing guardrails, uncapped rebars, defective ladders, construction debris and lumber throughout the fifth floor deck.”

Slip, trip and fall hazards from “Construction debris and building material stored all over the work floor.”

Exposing workers to “a 40-foot fall hazard while storing cement block units on plywood deck floor without fall protection equipment.”

Not making sure “employees were not exposed to impalement hazards while working above uncapped rebar.”

“Workplace safety standards exist to ensure that workers return to their families at the end of each day free from harm,” said OSHA Fort Lauderdale Area Director Condell Eastmond. “Disregarding legal obligations to identify and eliminate hazards can cause tragedies.”

Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.