On the day of the accident, employees were building a truss for an oil rig-housing unit. The housing unit was part of an offshore oil-drilling platform being built at the plant. A 10-foot-high truss supported the unit. As a crane lowered the truss, a chain sling slid to one side, causing it to strike one of several unsecured I-beams being used in the construction of the housing unit. In a domino effect, the struck I-beam toppled other I-beams, crushing Smith, a welder, between the first two that fell.
"If this employer had taken the time to plan the work, analyze the possible hazards and prepare accordingly, this fatality could have been prevented," said Clyde Payne, OSHA's Jackson area director. "So-called 'struck-by' accidents are now the leading cause of worker deaths in the Southeast."
In fiscal year 2003, OSHA's southeastern region investigated 102 "struck-by" fatalities.
OSHA cited the company for failing to:
- Conduct hazard assessments before beginning the lift
- Train employees in proper hook-up, anchoring and tie-off procedures
- Assure that loads were safely rigged before being hoisted
- Assure that employees used fall protection equipment at all times when working 50 feet above the ground
- Secure I-beams
- Properly maintain a crane's remote control.
A spokesperson said the company has not had a chance to review the OSHA citations and would not comment on them.
LeTourneau Inc. has 15 working days to contest the OSHA citations and proposed penalties before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, request an informal hearing with the area director or pay the penalties.