December 21, 2014

Report on construction accident due within days

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State agency could penalize construction business

By Tom Gresham
Observer staff

A report on the March construction accident that injured two workers in Williston is expected this week.

Robert McLeod, compliance program director for the Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said a compliance officer had not yet compiled a report on the accident, but he had completed investigating the case. McLeod expects the report will be finished this week.

The accident occurred March 11 at a housing construction site on Overlake View. Ian Dewey reportedly suffered internal injuries in the accident, while Andrew Francis apparently sustained an apparent broken ankle. Both are employees of Colchester-based Francis Construction.

Dewey was listed in fair condition three days after the accident. He has since been released from Fletcher Allen Health Care.

Four workers were attempting to raise an exterior wall on the second floor of a house. The workers lost control of the wall and it fell. The wall struck Dewey and knocked him 12 feet to the ground, according to Williston firefighter Jim Hendry. Francis was injured when the wall fell on his leg.

George Walker, a VOSHA compliance officer, reported to the site of the accident to begin an investigation. Williston fire officials contacted VOSHA.

McLeod said the investigation would examine whether any VOSHA workplace rules had been violated at the site. If the investigation finds any violations, Francis Construction would be cited. If the violations are deemed serious, McLeod said the company would be penalized.

McLeod said a business that is cited has 20 days to meet with the state, either in an informal conference or to contest the violation before the VOSHA Board.

Work has continued on the house where the accident occurred in the weeks since the accident.

McLeod said the state database lists accidents by employer and not by location of the accident, so it is difficult to track the number of workplace accidents in Williston in recent years. A worker at Pete’s RV Center died in a forklift accident at the store’s Williston warehouse in June of last year.

However, McLeod said, generally “there aren’t an awful lot of (construction) accidents in Vermont” each year, particularly where serious injuries occur.

McLeod said Francis Construction has not been involved in a VOSHA investigation during the past five years.

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