Fatal OH Scaffolding Collapse


Theodore Decker | | Thursday, July 2, 2009

One man died and two others were injured yesterday when scaffolding collapsed at a Dublin construction site, officials say.

Wilbert Johnson, 52, of Columbus, died in the 11:20 a.m. incident at 6100 Emerald Parkway, where construction crews are building the new headquarters for Dublin-based IGS Energy, said Michael Racey, a city of Dublin spokesman.

Racey identified the other workers as Brock Oldaker, 43, who was treated at a hospital and released, and Gary L. Rathburn, 49, who was hospitalized with injuries that weren't considered life-threatening. Both men are from Columbus.

All were masons laying brick on the rear of the building, which backs up to the southbound lanes of I-270, Racey said. They work for International Masonry Inc., a subcontractor on the project. Rathburn's mother told WBNS-TV (Channel 10) that her husband, Gerald, had died seven years ago in a similar fall from scaffolding while also working for International Masonry. "It makes me feel terrible, because I knew it would happen, you know," Janice Rathburn told WBNS. "I said it will happen again."

n yesterday's incident, the men were on scaffolding when all three fell varying distances, said Leslie Dybiec, a spokeswoman for the Washington Township Fire Department. Racey said it wasn't clear exactly what went wrong but that something "gave way," leading to their fall.

One of the men might have fallen as far as 30 feet. Dublin police kept all construction workers at the site until they could be interviewed, Racey said. The death will be investigated by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA records show it has cited International Masonry with various safety violations nine times in the past 10 years. The company was fined $8,000 for Gerald Rathburn's death in 2002, which occurred during the construction of Pickerington North High School. That investigation found that the 63-year-old mason lost his footing and fell 26 feet between the scaffold and the wall that was being built.

Janice Rathburn told WBNS that she later accepted $10,000 to settle a lawsuit that she filed against the company, which did not admit fault. International Masonry officials could not be reached yesterday.

IGS Energy President Scott White said in a prepared statement that Messer Construction, the project's construction manager, is cooperating with investigators and will continue to lead the project. "Our prayers and deepest sympathy are extended to Mr. Johnson's family," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers also are with the other two masons who were injured and we hope for their full recovery." WBNS-10TV reporter Paul Aker contributed to this story.

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