Occupational Safety and Health Administration

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

More than 350 members of the University of Texas at Dallas community gathered together Wednesday to remember two construction workers killed Saturday afternoon while working on a new arts and technology building at UT-Dallas.

Terry Weaver, of Grand Saline, Texas, and Thomas Fairbrother Jr., of Austin, were atop a construction crane dismantling parts when the crane fell across a building, resulting in their deaths. No others were injured as a result of the accident, and construction has been halted until an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration can be completed, according to UT-Dallas reports.

OSHA spokesperson Juan J. Rodriguez said Hunt Construction Group, the general contractor for the project, has never been charged with wrongdoing by OSHA, and he expects the investigation to take roughly six months.

UT-Dallas alumnus Arnand Gayapershad was studying in a nearby library when the accident occurred. Gayapershad said he and the others around him were in shock after hearing the crane fall and the ensuing panic.

“My friend and I were studying when all of the sudden we heard some people screaming from high in the air,” he said. “A few seconds later, we heard the sound of a lot of metal crashing to the ground, and a few milliseconds after that, we heard more screaming. They sounded like screams of pain, after which, everyone in the library froze.”

Raj Dwivedi, UT-Dallas Student Government president, said there has been speculation that weather conditions were a factor in causing the accident.

“There was severe weather and really high winds at the time,” he said.

According to the Associated Press, Matt Bishop, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said a band of thunderstorms moving into the area on Saturday afternoon brought sudden wind gusts that reached upward of 40 mph.

Dwivedi said student leaders wanted to show their support for the workers killed, so they joined with the university to plan a memorial service and create a benefit fund for the families of the workers.

“These workers lost their lives while working toward the growth of the UT-Dallas, so it was important that we memorialize them in some way,” he said.

Weaver’s funeral was held Thursday in Van, Texas, and Fairbrother’s will take place Saturday in Austin.

Sonny Laguna, president of Iron Workers Local 482, the union that both workers were members of, said there was a big turnout of ironworkers at Weaver’s funeral and he expects to see the same at Fairbrother’s on Saturday.