Two July Fatalities At Amazon Jobsites Spur Osha Probes

Jeffrey S. Gross

The July deaths of two subcontractor employees in separate construction incidents have prompted an investigation by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The fatal accidents occurred at two different construction sites of Amazon distribution facilities. Since last year, the online retailer has been rolling through a major building program around the Philadelphia region.

If a work-related accident has taken a loved one, Pennsylvania workers’ compensation pays a $3,000 funeral expense benefit to the families of eligible workers while providing the family with a percentage of the deceased worker’s salary. To protect your rights and ensure maximum benefits, contact the Philadelphia workers’ comp attorneys at Gross & Kenny, LLP.

The OSHA Investigation

Eric Lara was 29 years old. He worked as a laborer with no union affiliation for Mayfield Site Contractors Inc., located in King of Prussia, Pa. The project general contractor Gilbane Building Company subcontracted Mayfield to build the walls at an Amazon construction site within Philadelphia city limits. On July 27, Lara was building a retaining wall when it collapsed and killed him.

Wilmer Mejía Landaverde was 24 years old. He worked as a roofer with no union affiliation for B&C Contractors, based in Trenton, N.J. On July 6, he fell from the roof of a planned Amazon distribution center in East Norriton, a Philadelphia suburb.

IMC Construction, the project’s general contractor, said in a statement that despite extensive safety training and precautions, Mejía Landaverde had removed his safety line before the fall.

According to the Engineering News-Record, Gilbane Building Co. ranks at eleventh on their Top 400 Contractors list and reported more than $6 billion in 2020 construction revenue. IMC Construction ranks at 252 on the same list and reported more than $400 million in construction revenue last year.

In January, Amazon committed to a 94,000 square foot distribution facility. In April, Amazon announced plans to convert a former Walmart into a 130,000 square foot facility to be completed this year. Since 2010, Pennsylvania has ranked eighth among states in total Amazon investment in infrastructure.

These two deaths fall into what OSHA refers to as the Fatal Four—the four leading causes of construction workers’ deaths. These include:

  • Falls – 381 deaths (39.2%)
  • Struck by objects – 80 deaths (8.2%)
  • Electrocution – 71 deaths (7.3%)
  • Cut-in/between – 50 deaths (5.1%)

The Fatal Four accounted for almost 60% of all construction workers’ deaths in 2017 (the last reported data).

When should I contact a lawyer?

The surviving spouse, children under 18 years old, or other dependent family members are eligible to claim Pennsylvania workers’ compensation death benefits if a loved one was fatally injured in a work-related accident or illness.

If you believe you are entitled to your loved one’s death benefits, consulting with an experienced lawyer is not only advisable but also recommended. The requirements and deadlines are strict and often complicated and change from state to state. The Philadelphia attorneys at Gross & Kenny, LLP can help you during this challenging time. Contact us for a free consultation of your case by clicking here or calling 215-512-1500.

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