Fatal NY mezzanine collapse 'should never have happened'
Formica Construction's willful disregard led to worker’s death
The life of a 46-year-old demolition worker, killed in a building collapse in November 2014 at a Staten Island auto dealership, could have been spared if his employer had not disregarded federal safety rules.
Delfino Jesus Velazquez Mendizabal died when the mezzanine of the former Dana Ford Lincoln dealership collapsed on him. A husband and father, Mendizabal was employed by Formica Construction Co. Inc., a Port Richmond, New York, contractor.
Willfully disregarded protocols
"This worker's death should never have happened," said Patricia Jones, OSHA's area director for Staten Island. "Had Formica Construction chosen to plan and carry out the demolition correctly, this collapse would not have occurred, and Mr. Mendizabal would not have died."
What the company didn't do
OSHA inspectors found that the company did not conduct a required pre-demolition engineering survey to determine the building's stability and a possible structural collapse. Once work had begun, Formica Construction ignored required safety practices by removing load-supporting sections of walls and floors before upper-level sections of the building were demolished and removed. The company also did not shore or brace the walls and floors against collapse while employees worked in the building.
In addition, as the demolition proceeded, Formica did not conduct ongoing inspections to identify hazards created by weakened or deteriorated walls and floors. The company also failed to train its employees to recognize and avoid demolition hazards. Formica also did not keep a record of on-the-job injuries and illnesses.
As a result of these actions, OSHA has cited Formica Construction for three willful, three serious and one other- than-serious violation of OSHA standards. Proposed fines total $121,000. The citations can be viewed here.