Penn State

OSHA opens probe of PSU construction death

The Burrowes building on the Penn State University is under construction June 16, 2015.
The Burrowes building on the Penn State University is under construction June 16, 2015. CDT photo

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has six months to investigate the accident that caused the death of a Uniontown construction worker Friday on the Penn State campus.

Jerod Chapman, 29, died Friday as a result of a construction accident at the site of the Burrowes Building renovation project. Centre County Coroner Scott Sayers ruled his death accidental and due to blunt force trauma when he was struck by a crane.

The federal agency is investigating general contractor P.J. Dick, subcontractors Maccabee Industrial and Maxim Crane Works, which leased the crane and had an operator on site at the time of the accident.

OSHA spokeswoman Leni Uddyback-Fortson said the agency has investigated each company for violations in the past.

Maxim Crane Works has been inspected 100 times nationally since March 2004, resulting in 18 violations. Uddyback-Fortson said a similar accident involving the company occurred Sept. 7, 2010.

In that incident, a crane operator was disassembling a 62-foot, 350-ton crane on a truck bed. The worker disconnected three pins and struck the last pin with a 10-pound sledge hammer and was injured when the boom, which had not been secured, dropped. The employee sustained head, shoulder and hand injuries and was hospitalized for three days.

Maccabee Industrial has been inspected four times since 2005, most recently in 2009, and has received citations having to do with erecting steel, flammable liquids, scaffolding, ladders, personal protective equipment and hazard communication violations.

P.J. Dick has had two inspections since 2006 and was given citations related to fall protection, hand tools, stairways, flammable liquids and masonry violations.

P.J. Dick, the general contractor for the renovation, also has launched an investigation, which suspended work at the site Monday.

“We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the family of Mr. Chapman and are fully cooperating with the proper authorities in their investigation of this tragic incident,” P.J. Dick spokesman Jake Ploeger said in an email Monday.

Chapman, who was employed by Maccabee Industrial, was taken to and pronounced dead at Mount Nittany Medical Center after the accident.

Maccabee safety director Jay Paroda did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

OSHA is required to issue any citations and proposed penalties within six months of a violation.