As of the time of this writing, yet another worker has been injured onsite at the I-4 Ultimate project in Orlando. This is just the latest in a slew of injuries and deaths on this megaproject that have resulted in project delays and thousands of dollars in violations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In this article, we explore the tumultuous history of the I-4 Ultimate project and how contractors can learn from the unfortunate setbacks that have befallen it. For legal assistance on similar large-scale projects, consult one of our OSHA defense lawyers from Cotney Construction Law.
Designed to be a “21-mile makeover,” I-4 Ultimate is an ambitious project valued at $2.3 billion and spanning all the way from Kirkman Road in Orange County to Road 434 in Seminole County. The project website states that I-4 Ultimate is “transforming the region to better connect our communities, boost our economy and improve everyone’s quality of life.”
To be clear, megaprojects like I-4 Ultimate are necessary to serve growing local populations and address our nation’s infrastructure crisis. Our industry absolutely needs high-profile construction projects to raise the bar on what can be accomplished through innovation and determination. However, construction sites on I-4 Ultimate and similar projects must nevertheless abide by OSHA regulations, which state that they must be “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.” As the accidents on I-4 Ultimate can attest to, not everyone’s quality of life has been improved.
On Sep. 13, 2019, a subcontractor on I-4 Ultimate was struck in the leg by a 60-foot pipe weighing 7,000 pounds. The worker was subsequently transported to the Orlando Regional Medical Center for treatment. While it was stated that the injury was incurred during “regular construction activities,” it will likely be investigated by OSHA. If found negligent, the construction firm working on I-4 Ultimate, could incur hefty fines, especially if the firm has already incurred fines stemming from this project or past projects.
Four Deaths In Total
All told, four workers have died on I-4 Ultimate since it broke ground in 2015. The above injury occurs just one month after OSHA and the construction firm in question were able to reach a settlement over the death of a worker stationed at a jobsite on Wymore Road. The deceased worker was also struck by a pipe, which rolled off a flatbed truck in this instance. The construction firm in question was penalized $13,260 for his death, and the project was delayed for one week while safety procedures were reviewed.
Three other deaths have occurred on the project. One worker was struck by a dump truck in February 2016, while another was struck by a piece of steel equipment in December of that year. Yet another worker was struck by a rebar cage in March of 2018. You may have noticed one unsettling commonality among these deaths: they all resulted from a worker being struck by an object. “Struck by object” is among OSHA’s “Fatal Four” and resulted in just over 8 percent of construction-related deaths in 2017. As a contractor, taking precautions against struck-by-object hazards can greatly increase jobsite safety and ensure that you avoid the delays and OSHA fines that have plagued the I-4 Ultimate project. Consult an OSHA attorney for help mitigating struck-by-object hazards on your jobsite.
Another of OSHA’s Fatal Four on I-4 Ultimate
In addition to the previously mentioned injuries and fatalities, three workers were injured by a 15-foot fall from a platform on February 2019. Work was again stopped so that similar platforms could be inspected. Remember, falls are another of OSHA’s Fatal Four, and precautions, such as fall arrest systems, must be taken when your workers are at an elevation of six feet or higher. Keeping up with OSHA regulations that involve struck-by-object hazards and falls as well as the myriad of other regulations that you must abide by is no easy feat. In order to remain OSHA compliant, you need an ally that is familiar with the unique challenges that threaten projects like I-4 Ultimate.
Partner With an OSHA Attorney
While the project was initially planned to end by 2021, the construction firm in question are now blaming the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) for I-4 Ultimate being delayed by 260 days.
Are you concerned that your project could be delayed in a similar manner? An experienced OSHA lawyer can do a walkthrough of your project sites and ensure that you are compliant with all OSHA regulations. This is crucial for ensuring project success and the safety of your workers. They can also defend you in the unfortunate event that an injury or death does occur on your project site. Don’t leave the fate of your construction project to chance. Hire an OSHA defense lawyer who can safeguard the company, workforce, and projects that you have invested so much time and money into.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.