OSHA proposes $194K in fines for Adams County power plant collapse

Adamo Demolition to challenge citations
Posted at 2:18 PM, May 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-16 09:31:09-04

CINCINNATI — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed new fines totaling $192,510 against two contractors involved in the Dec. 9 collapse that killed two men at the Killen power plant in Adams County.

Detroit-based Adamo Demolition Co. faces three new violations alleging the company failed to properly monitor the explosive demolition process, leading to the deaths of Jamie Fitzgerald and Doug Gray. OSHA proposed fines totaling $180,222 for those violations in addition to a $1,502 fine proposed in February for a paperwork violation.

East China, Michigan-based SCM Engineer Demolition Inc. also faces three new violations related to the Dec. 9 collapse. OSHA proposed fines totaling $12,288 against SCM, Adamo’s explosive demolition subcontractor on the Killen project.

“Some of the most dangerous construction projects are those that involve demolishing buildings,” said Kenneth Montgomery, a Cincinnati-based OSHA area director, in a press release. “This tragedy could have been prevented if the employer protected their workers with proper planning, training and appropriate personal protective equipment and by complying with OSHA standards.”

OSHA's press release said the companies failed to monitor the site for potential hazards and failed to remove workers from hazardous areas.

Adamo released a statement about the OSHA announcement:

"Adamo does not agree with the citations and has contested that there was a violation and will be communicating with OSHA regarding an informal resolution of the citations. We do not believe it is appropriate for anyone to discuss the citations while that process is proceeding."

SCM did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

The violations are in line with what a former employee told the WCPO 9 I-Team in April: That an Adamo supervisor failed to inspect safety problems raised by employees.

"I felt unsafe every day," Labe Griffith told the I-Team. “I was never so relieved in my life to be laid off from a job.”

Adamo’s biggest proposed fine of $136,532 was for a “willful serious” violation in which OSHA alleged it failed to restrict employees from a hazardous area after being told about “twisted/bowed columns and unusual settling noises within a building.” Another proposed fine for $30,037 was for failing to instruct employees how to recognize and avoid hazards, including “structural columns being cut” in various ways “to weaken and direct the collapse of columns in a predetermined direction.”

Adamo’s proposed new fines are more than six times the size the initial penalty proposed by OSHA for the 2015 collapse of a coal conveyor bridge at the Muskingum River power plant in Southeast Ohio. That case ended with Adamo paying a $12,500 fine.

In the Killen case, Adamo and SCM have 15 days to pay the fine, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director of contest the violations.