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Companies Fined in Construction Worker's Death

Posted June 11, 2007

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— Two companies have been fined in connection with the February death of a construction worker at a downtown Durham site, officials said Monday.

Derrick Pilgrim, 35, of 1204 E. Club Blvd., a worker for Big Dog Demolition Co. was doing some demolition work inside a two-story building at West Main and Fuller streets that used to house Liggett & Myers administrative offices when a wall collapsed on him on Feb. 13.

The historic tobacco warehouse complex is undergoing renovations as developers convert it into shops, offices and residential units.

Big Dog allowed employees to work within a foot of unstable walls, failed to get an engineering survey before demolition work, didn't train workers to avoid hazards, didn't provide information to workers using dust respirators and let a worker ride in the cab of a Bobcat as it was lifted 45 feet above the ground by a crane, according to the North Carolina Department of Labor.

The company was fined $9,750 for the violations.

Barnhill Contracting Co., the primary contractor on the redevelopment project was fined $6,300 for two violations. The Labor Department said the company violated labor laws by allowing Big Dog to do demolition work without an engineering survey and by not regularly inspecting the job site, materials and equipment.

20 Comments

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  • Sarge Jun 12, 2007

    not even a slap on the wrist. they probably have 5 - 10 lawyers on retainer just for these kind of issues.

  • JerryO Jun 12, 2007

    Let me clarify what happened to my brother. He was a pipewelder working on a 30" pipe in a 15' deep trench. Regulations require that in an excavation like this, that the walls of the trench be sloped and shored up. Neither of these things were done and the wall caved in and crushed him. In court, Texas Gulf never denied that the site was unsafe, but, because he had attended a safety course, he should have known better than to enter the trench. Never mind that other workers had been working in it all morning. Although, clearly, the majority of the blame goes to Texas Gulf, under North Carolina law, they do not assign majority blame. If you are at all culpable, you're just as guilty as the main offender. Under the law, my brother was as guilty as Texas Gulf and caused his own death.

  • shine Jun 12, 2007

    More than often people put theirselves in harms way by taking shortcuts. Sometimes there is not enough management and control to keep this from happening. If there had been an engineering study and an accident occurred would you hold the engineering companys survey liable or the company? I have seen an instructor injured while teaching a safety course on a piece of construction equipment by taking shortcuts. Loss of life and accidents are terrible at best, but sometimes it is the "person" decision that gets people hurt, injured, killed, more than the company's responsibility.

  • OLD PIRATE Jun 12, 2007

    As mentioned the fines are only for certain "failure to do" things". I hate to see any loss of life anywhere, but people are fast to blame the company when many accidents could have been avoided by employees. NC actually has a very good record with health and safety. but How many people can have an engineer study before doing every job? Didn't have resperators and this had what to do with the accident?, two people on bob cat at 45 feet???? Simple lack of supervision for sure but the rest seems to simply send a message and collect something for the cost of the investigation. Again, I'm sorry for the lost life.

  • JerryO Jun 12, 2007

    Worker

  • apmcn Jun 12, 2007

    was your brother a worker or was he just walking through a jobsite?

  • JerryO Jun 12, 2007

    My brother was killed at a construction site in Aurora several years ago and I don't believe Texas Gulf was fined at all. We sued and the court told us, he should have known better than to go into the site. NC has some of the worst worker protection laws around.

  • skinnycow Jun 12, 2007

    "Big Dog allowed employees to work within a foot of unstable walls, failed to get an engineering survey before demolition work, didn't train workers to avoid hazards, didn't provide information to workers using dust respirators and let a worker ride in the cab of a Bobcat as it was lifted 45 feet above the ground by a crane, according to the North Carolina Department of Labor."

    I am not a contractor so I dont know how much this would have cost Big Dog Demolition so the fact that they didnt care enough for their employees to ensure that all safety measures and precautions were met before they allowed them to work in such an unstable enviroment tells me they had little regard for their employees well being and safety. So to the company that cost was more important than their employees lives. Take the cost of those expenditures = value of loss life. So for those who felt a need to correct my original post perhaps this one is a lil more informative of my personal opinion. Thank you.

  • CLH0101 Jun 12, 2007

    Rev. RB is exactly right. The fines are not meant to put a price on human life. The labor department enforces safety rules; it doesn't decide how much a life costs. The families can take action in court if they choose to do so.

  • Adelinthe Jun 12, 2007

    It is not the state's jurisdiction to sue for damages on behalf of the family beyond the legal fines. BUT...With these state fines now in place against the companies, the family can now sue - and I hope they do and win big.

    Praying for the family.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

    Praying f

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