Not an “accident”: Kevin Purpura, 39, suffers fatal work-related injury in Wheeling, WV

Kevin Purpura, 39, suffered fatal traumatic injuries on Friday, January 15 while working at major renovation project in Wheeling, WV. His employer was Sandow Development.

The (Wheeling) Investigator reports:

  • Mr. Purpura “fell several stories while working inside the former Boury Warehouse."
  • Wheeling police said he was “inspecting metal studding surrounding an elevator shaft” when he fell.
  • The worksite is a “six-story, 120-year-old former warehouse…[which] is being converted into roughly 70 loft-style apartments by the Woda Group of Westerville, Ohio."
  • The “Boury Lofts” project is valued at $13 million and is expected to open in early 2017.

Using OSHA’s on-line database, it does not appear that OSHA has conducted any inspections involving Sandow Development, at least since 2000.

Each year, dozens of workers in West Virginia are fatally injured on the job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 38 work-related fatal injuries in West Virginia during 2014 (preliminary data, most recent available.) Nationwide, at least 4,679 workers suffered fatal traumatic injuries in 2014.

The AFL-CIO’s annual Death on the Job report notes:

  • OSHA has 6 inspectors to cover more than 37,000 workplaces.
  • The average penalty for a serious violation in West Virginia is $1,685.
  • The median penalty amount for a work-related fatality occurring in West Virginia is $11,250.

OSHA has until mid-July 2016 to issue any citations and penalties related to the incident that stole Kevin Purpura’s life. It’s likely they’ll determine that his death was preventable. It was no “accident.”


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