A Missouri contractor faces federal charges in the death of an employee, who plunged more than 30 feet to from Kansas City construction site in July, 2015.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is charging Fasttrack Erectors with violating OSHA regulations and causing the death of an employee. Eric Roach, a 22-year-old apprentice ironworker, had only been on the job for a few weeks when the accident occurred as he was standing on a 9-inch-wide steel girder on a building under construction. Roach had not been provided fall protection by Fasttrack Erectors.

Fastrack was a subcontractor in the construction of a 300,000-square-foot distribution warehouse Fastrack is an American Institute of Steel Construction-certified steel erection company that specializes in structural steel, miscellaneous steel, pre-engineered metal buildings, ornamental metal handrail, and precast installation. Fastrack supplied on-site supervisors (who are based in the St. Louis, Mo., area) while the ironworkers were hired from the union local in Kansas City, Mo.

How it happened

On July 24, 2014, two Fastrack ironworker employees were receiving a bundle of roof decking sheet metal and setting it on top of the building’s bar joists. The employees’ task required them to guide the decking bundle to land it. Each decking bundle was 26 feet long by 36 inches wide. The employees accessed the top of the building from a scissor lift and walked approximately 15 feet along a joist without wearing any fall protection. They walked on trusses that were nine inches wide, or bar joists which were five inches wide. Other ironworkers secured the decking to the trusses with screws and welds. These workers did not use fall protection.

Eric Roach was one of the employees landing the decking. After his fall, he was transported to a local hospital where he died the following day.

Fastrack was a subcontractor to ARCO National Construction-KC, Inc. According to court documents, the contract between ARCO and Fastrack required that Fastrack “personnel who are working or present at heights in excess of 6 feet shall be provided, by (Fastrack) adequate fall protection.” Fastrack allegedly failed to enforce the use of fall protection.

Foreman didn't wear fall protection, either

According to the information filed in federal court, no fall protection equipment was provided by the company. Both working foremen on the site were told, or questioned, about the lack of fall protection equipment, the information says, and were in a position to personally observe employees failing to use fall protection equipment. At least one of the foremen allegedly was working on the decking in the immediate area of the employees; he failed to wear fall protection himself and failed to enforce the use of fall protection by the employees.

Federal statutes require that each employee engaged in a steel erection activity who is on a walking/working surface with an unprotected side or edge more than 15 feet above a lower level shall be protected from fall hazards by guardrail systems, safety net systems, personal fall arrest systems, positioning device systems or fall restraint systems.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul S. Becker. It was investigated by the OSHA and the Department of Labor – Office of Solicitor.

In January of this year, OSHA proposed penalties of $511,000 for violations found during its inspection following the fatality.