Saturday, April 21, 2018
Public safety

OSHA accepts settlement with company whose worker died in Weedon Island collapse

ST. PETERSBURG — Federal investigators have accepted a $7,300 settlement with a demolition company whose worker was killed during a building collapse on Weedon Island last summer.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration originally proposed the company, New York-based Frontier Industrial Corp., pay $12,600 for two serious safety violations. The two sides agreed on a lesser amount after a conference last month.

Frontier has paid the fine in full, chief operating officer Robert Zuchlewski said Wednesday.

"I think (OHSA) realized we are a company committed to safety," he said. "We've never had a citation before in our history."

OSHA began investigating Frontier last summer after the death of welder Clark White, 65.

White, a father, grandfather and Army veteran from West Virginia, was part of a crew demolishing an old Progress Energy plant on the island. He was on the ground floor when the 180-foot-tall structure came down prematurely on June 9.

White was said to have heard cracking and popping sounds moments before the collapse. He yelled for others on the crew, which included his son and a nephew, to get out, but he didn't make it. He died instantly of blunt trauma, the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's Office said.

In December, OSHA determined Frontier was responsible for two serious violations, both with a potential penalty of $6,300. Structures at the site were overstressed, officials said, and inspections weren't being done during the project.

After meeting with Frontier officials, authorities reduced the second violation to "other than serious," and made the fine $1,000.

OSHA's priority is worker safety, a spokesperson said, and the agency has the option to adjust fines and citations after meeting with a company.

Zuchlewski said White's death was a "terrible tragedy."

"He was a great guy and a huge part of the company," he said. "It was a huge loss."

Kameel Stanley can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8643.

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