The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a citation and a $5,000 fine to a local construction company after a crane operator was killed in a work-related accident last year, according to newly obtained documents.
Trucano Construction Company was issued a citation on Jan. 18 for failing to properly secure a crane to a barge that toppled over and crushed the 75-year-old crane operator, Boyd Cody, as he tried to escape the crane’s cab.
“On or about November 3, 2011 and at times prior thereto, the employer did not ensure that an appropriate option had been selected for the use of a P&H Model 535, Serial Number 30336, land-based crawler on the deck of the barge,” the citation reads. “This condition affected the stability of the barge, impacted the safe lift capacity of the crane, and resulted in fatal injuries to the crane operator.”
Trucano was also cited for failure to provide formal training on the hazards of loading and unloading materials on barges afloat; failure to ensure load charts were modified to ensure safe lifts could be accomplished on the crane; and for leaving OSHA a voicemail to report the fatality instead of using the proper 1-800 phone number. The latter citation was dismissed, documents show.
The citations have provided some relief to Cody’s widow, Mabel Cody, who said she asked OSHA if the accident was her husband’s fault, and they responded, “Absolutely not,” she said.
“That made me feel better,” she said.
But the president and owner of the company, Douglas Trucano, said he remains unshaken that the accident was Cody’s fault alone, despite the citations. He said he only felt responsible in the respect that he allowed Cody to continue working in the construction yard at the age of 75.
“I didn’t have the heart to tell him, ‘Boyd, you’re too old. We don’t need you anymore,’” Trucano said in a phone interview.
Cody had worked for the construction company for more than 30 years and was a “faithful employee and a good friend,” Trucano said.
OSHA launched an investigation almost immediately after the incident at the Trucano construction site in North Douglas.
OSHA is required to investigate any workplace fatality, and they are required to issue any citations within six months of the date of the accident, if any are deemed necessary.
Normally, the citations are posted online 30 days after they are issued, but an OSHA spokesman said there was glitch in the OSHA computer system, which prevented these citations from appearing online.
The Empire recently requested relevant OSHA documents through the Freedom of Information Act and obtained them Thursday.
The documents show OSHA and Trucano reached an informal settlement agreement on Feb. 10.
Trucano agreed to correct the violations and submitted the agreed upon fine of $5,000 on Feb. 13. OSHA had originally proposed a $11,400 penalty, according to records.
Additionally, Trucano agreed to have regular, documented safety meetings for employees, and to add OSHA’s Compliance Guide for Cranes and Derricks in Construction to its Trucano Safety Program binder provided to employees.
Trucano said he gave Cody the choice that day to either complete the task that day or the next with either a forklift, a crane, or both.
“It was strictly he made a mistake, and it was a very, very bad mistake,” Trucano said.
He added, “They couldn’t really find anything wrong except for the fact that the crane wasn’t chained down, and that was a big one. Other than that, it was really Boyd’s mistake, but nobody feels any worse (about) this than I do.”
Mabel Cody said she had no intention to sue her late husband’s work place, but was glad they were being held accountable.
“I think if they’re liable, then I think, yes, that they should be held accountable,” she said in a phone interview. “It’s only right, you know?”
She added, “It’s not going to bring Boyd back, but I think personally — I get so much a month from the Trucano family, I think it’s an insurance — but I think any construction company should be liable for a death. That’s the way I feel.”
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.