KEY LARGO, FL – A 29-year-old employee of a Florida marine construction company drowned in five feet of water after being pinned under a fallen crane in March 2023. Federal workplace safety investigators determined the company could have prevented the fatality by following required safety standards.Employees of Upper Keys Marine Construction LLC were installing a piling foundation for a residential boat lift when the crane tipped over and fell into the water. The employee, who was inappropriately tasked to ride the load of the crane, became pinned under the crane’s hammer and drowned. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found the company violated federal safety standards when they:Permitted workers to conduct pile-driving operations from a boat dock without approved buoyant vests. Failed to have a lifesaving skiff immediately available during offshore operations.Permitted an uncertified crane operator to operate the equipment.Failed to comply with the crane manufacturer’s stability and load capacity for the crane.Permitted workers to ride the load attached to the boom of a crane during pile-driving operations.Operated a crane that was not physically secured to the barge.“This tragedy was completely preventable if the company had met their responsibility and followed federal requirements,” said OSHA Area Office Director Condell Eastmond in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “Because of their negligence, a young man needlessly lost his life, and his loved ones are now left to grieve their loss.”OSHA issued the company nine serious citations and proposed $92,191 in penalties, an amount set by federal statute for the violations. Located in Key Largo, Upper Keys Marine Construction LLC is a commercial and residential marine construction company that installs concrete, vinyl, and steel seawalls; wood, concrete, and composite docks; piling, boat ramps, floating docks and boat lifts in South Florida.The company has 15 business days from receipt of their citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.Visit OSHA’s website for information on developing a workplace safety and health program. Employers can also contact the agency for information about OSHA’s compliance assistance resources and for free help on complying with OSHA standards.
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