Texas Companies Cited After A&M Structure Collapse

December 24, 2013

Federal officials have fined two construction companies for safety violations related to this summer’s collapse of a barn frame at Texas A&M University’s $80 million equestrian complex.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated when four workers were hurt in the June 22 accident, about a mile from campus. OSHA determined the barn, which was under construction at the time, collapsed due to a failure in structural stability, The Eagle newspaper reported Sunday.

Houston-based Ramco Erectors was fined $40,500 for seven OSHA violations. The general contractor, Gamma Construction Co., was cited for one OSHA violation and ordered to pay $6,300.

The two companies have 15 days to pay the penalties or appeal. Efforts Sunday to leave messages by email and telephone were unsuccessful.

Three of the four injured workers were critically hurt, but all have since recovered. Their names were not released.

The steel frame structure fell when a worker released a rafter from a crane before proper bracing was completed, according to a citation issued to Ramco Erectors for failing to instruct employees on unsafe conditions. Once the rafter was let go, “the building racked and fell to the ground,” according to OSHA documents.

Additionally, Ramco Erectors was cited for not providing a safe work environment “free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”

The subcontractor also was fined for not inspecting rigging equipment material according to standards, which led to a defective safety latch for a sling used to lift rafters going unnoticed. Other citations were related to site-specific plans and improper or defective equipment.

Gamma Construction received a citation for failure to maintain structural stability by not replacing critical rigging materials.

Gamma Construction, on its website, described the A&M work as a facility to enhance A&M’s equine program and consolidate not only academic programs, but clubs and associations to one location in order to teach, train, conduct research, exhibit and showcase events.

Conditions at the time of the collapse were cloudy with temperatures in the mid-80s and winds gusting just above 10 mph, the National Weather Service said.

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