Robert Derkacs, Jr., 45 and Joseph Donahue, 25 suffered fatal traumatic injuries on Thursday, February 18 while working at a construction project in Hanover, NJ. Press accounts indicate that the incident occurred at the location of the new Whippany Fire Department on Troy Hills Road. NJ.com reports:
"'A 10,000-pound generator [was] being hoisted by a crane…when a strap gave way,' according to Hanover Township Mayor Ronald Francioli."
The incident occurred about 11:30 am.
The local CBS affiliate reports:
“A crane crew had secured the generator and was moving it to its permanent location when it appears two of the four yellow support belts snapped, flipping the generator onto two workers who were guiding it into place.”
The Daily Record reports:
The generator was being moved and placed onto an “….outdoor concrete pad when a strap broke, sending the equipment crashing to the ground.”
Groundbreaking for the new Whippany Fire Company fire station occurred on February 1, 2015.
NJ.com indicates the following firms are involved in construction of the new fire station.
- Boz Electrical Contracting (which was Mr. Derkacs' employer)
- Industrial Process & Equipment Inc (which as Mr. Donahue's employer)
- Precision Building and Construction
- City Erectors
- Omland Engineering Associates, Inc.
Boz Electrical Contracting has been the subject of two OSHA inspections since 2010. The firm paid a $2,625 penalty in 2010 for two serious violations of electrical safety standards. Industrial Process & Equipment was the subject of an OSHA inspection in 2012. The firm paid a $2,100 penalty for failing its general duty to provide a safe workplace. In 2009, Precision Building and Construction paid at $2,100 penalty for two serious violations related to improper fall protection while operating an aerial lift and working on scaffolds.
The AFL-CIO’s annual Death on the Job report notes:
- Federal OSHA has 59 inspectors in New Jersey to cover more than 230,000 workplaces. With that number of inspectors, it would take 86 years for them to inspect each workplace in the State just once.
- The average penalty for a serious violation in New Jersey is $2,176.
- The median penalty amount for a work-related fatality occurring in New Jersey is $6,000.
Federal OSHA has until mid-August 2016 to issue any citations and penalties related to the incident that stole the lives of Robert Derkacs, Jr. and Joseph Donahue. It’s likely OSHA will determine that their deaths were preventable. It was no “accident.”