Crane operator charged in deaths of son, second worker at construction site

  • 3 January 2017
  • Author: Ascent Admin
  • Number of views: 1322
Crane operator charged in deaths of son, second worker at construction site

A crane operator faces involuntary manslaughter charges in a 2014 incident in which his son and another construction worker plummeted to their deaths from above a Winters bridge construction site. Mark Powell operated the crane that lifted the basket carrying son and operator Marcus Zane Powell and pile driver Glenn Allen Hodgson early May 30, 2014, according to a Cal-OSHA citation. The hoisted basket they rode aboard broke free, plunging the pair eight stories to their deaths.

Powell was one of three supervisors on the site of the new Winters Road Bridge being built by Burlingame-based Disney Construction. The Powells and Hodgson were part of a crew repairing a crane that was being used as a drill rig at the site of the bridge, which spans Putah Creek and connects Yolo and Solano County.

Mark Powell’s crane lifted the younger Powell and Hodgson skyward in the basket to repair and reattach a wire line atop the second drilling crane. Powell then used his crane to lower the men and pull the wire line out of the second crane. But the wire line became stuck in the drilling crane, causing a chain of events that dropped the men and their basket 80 feet to the ground, the Cal-OSHA citation read.

The criminal charges followed more than $100,000 in fines levied against Disney Construction filed after the fatal incident. Cal-OSHA officials assessed $106,110 in fines in November 2014, citing serious violations. Among them, the crane Powell used to lift the younger Powell and Hodgson was not certified for lifting and the safety latch on the hook that held the personnel basket was defective and did not lock.

A “long list of mechanical deficiencies” with the nearly 40-year-old crane used to lift the two men were also found by third-party inspectors following the incident, Cal-OSHA said in its report. “Since the decision was made to use a crane and a personnel platform, the root cause of the accident was the failure to survey and inspect the equipment being used and the equipment being repaired,” the agency’s inspectors concluded.


2 comments on article "Crane operator charged in deaths of son, second worker at construction site"

David Cervantes

1/3/2017 11:29 AM

I have been in Safety for over 25 years and I cannot feel any sympathy for the father. You reap what you sow. Owner's, operator's, general contractor's, etc, know they work unsafe and does not bother them to know this or refuse to acknowledge that this is the case. I am glad that the father is being charged, he deserves to pay for his lack of safety concern towards his workers and know he see's the result of this attitude.

Rex Butler

1/5/2017 10:30 AM

I have been in safety for over 27 years and I don't know whether sympathy is warranted for the father or not because I don't know the entire story. I do know that it has been the standard for the past 8 years to punish rather than partner/educate.

It's feasible that this man was ignorant. It's possible that he had done this 100 times before without incident. That's something unacceptable to those of us who know safety, but to ignorance it translates to production and getting the job done. It's not right, but it's what thousands of workers do every single day. Part of this is due to a lack of a sustained safe work environment and/or inadequate training. Sadly, some of the problem is due to unsafe acts by employees who don't care so much.

This man lost a son and a co-worker in a basket suspended at the end of a crane with his hand on the controls. Did he intend for these men to die before he raised them? Of course not. Did he think what he was doing was safe or what is a deliberate decision to engage in risky behavior? From this article, we really can't determine that. We do know that it cost Disney over $200,000. But this guy lost a son, a co-worker, probably his job, and he's going to likely go to prison.

The bottom line as I see it is that we don't know the entire story. I'll take this as an example to share with others on what risky behavior or ignorance is equally capable of doing and to show that we all have a shared responsibility in workplace safety whether we are in the trenches or in the corporate office.

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