Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

Three men fell to their deaths off a TV antenna. OSHA and the employer disagree on fault.

The area around the TV tower hours after the tragedy that killed three workers.
The area around the TV tower hours after the tragedy that killed three workers.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined that Tower King II was at fault in the Sept. 27 equipment collapse that caused three men to plunge to their deaths while working on a Miami Gardens TV tower.

The Cedar Hill, Texas, company was fined the maximum allowed for what’s determined a Serious violation: $12,934.

Tower King II, through Canton, Ohio attorney Tod Morrow, says it’s already filed a Notice of Contest with the Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.

Tower King II President Kevin Barber lost his stepson Brachton Barber, 23, in the accident.

The younger Barber, Tampa resident Benito Rodriguez, 35, and 31-year-old Marcus Goffena of Sidney, Ohio, were replacing an antenna for WSVN-Channel 7 on the tower at 501 NW 207th St. The tower is also used by WPLG-Channel 10.

“During the investigation, OSHA determined that a gin pole system — a device that attaches to a communications tower to hoist loads — failed, causing the employees to fall,” OSHA’s news release said. “Investigators determined that the employer failed to ensure the capacity of the rigging attachments were adequate to support the forces imposed from hoisting loads.”

Tower King II was issued a Serious citation “for exposing employees to fall and struck-by hazards.”

“This tragedy underscores the importance of having a qualified individual conduct an analysis before performing construction work on communication towers,” Fort Lauderdale OSHA Office Director Condell Eastmond said in the release.

Morrow disagreed with the implication Tower King II didn’t do just that.

“The Company consulted several experts in the tower safety industry and asked them to perform a thorough accident investigation,” Morrow stated. “Both the Company and its experts have concluded that the accident was caused by the failure of a third-party engineering firm to properly calculate the stress factors on the rigging used to secure the equipment to the TV tower. It is our belief that a mistake in the engineering plan caused an overloading of the rigging components, ultimately causing them to fail.”

After the tragedy, Morrow says, Tower King II finished the job by using a rigging plan with the proper calculations.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal