Company tardy in fatal accident reporting

September 18, 2009 at 6:13 pm Leave a comment

*published Sept. 18. 2009


A local construction company did not follow proper protocol after a Tuesday accident that left one man dead and another one with serious injuries.

Priola Construction is the company managing the construction of a Whitney Bank on the corner of Country Club and Nelson roads, where laborer Jose Morales, 32, and another man were crushed by a 14-foot frame wall.

According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations, a company official must report preliminary information to the federal agency within eight hours of any accident — regardless of severity.

As of 9 a.m. Thursday morning, the Louisiana OSHA office, based in Baton Rouge, had no record of an accident in Lake Charles on Sept. 15.

The agent on duty in Baton Rouge said he would contact officials with Priola before releasing any other information.

In many construction projects, one company may be contracted with the entire project and subcontract out with other companies for dirt, concrete and workers.

Priola Construction did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

On the day of the accident, witnesses said they saw other workers run away from the scene when off-duty police officers were called over for help.

Calcasieu Parish Coroner’s Office chief investigator Zeb Johnson said he was not able to determine whether or not Morales was a legal immigrant and that any investigation of that type would be left up to federal immigration officials.

Federal officials would only comment on general protocol for work-site enforcement, which usually entails first subpoenaing and inspecting I-9 employment records for an audit.

In the Tuesday accident, which was reported at about 3:25 p.m., about eight workers were trying to lift a 65-footlong frame wall in place when wind caused the wall to shift and fall.

Morales and another worker were trapped underneath. The two men were taken to Lake Charles Memorial Hospital with what Johnson described as crushing injuries. Morales was pronounced dead upon arrival at the emergency room at 4:41 p.m.



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