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Three Construction Workers Die in Downtown Raleigh Scaffolding Collapse

According to a news report on WRAL, OSHA records show that the company responsible for the scaffolding at the downtown Raleigh constuction site where three construction workers were killed and another seriously injured Monday morning had previously been cited twice in the last ten years for violations related to scaffolding. Previous scaffolding violations by Choate Construction, the general contractor working the Fayetteville Street Charter Square project where the fatal constuction accident happened, involved a fatal garage collapse in Florida in 2007. The news report indicates Choate was cleared of any wrongdoing and cited design flaws as the cause. In 2009, Choate was cited on a project in Georgia when a construction site lacked hand rails or safety nets. In both cases, Choate paid fines. Choate has passed more than 60 inspections since 2000.

Charter Square is an 11-story building at 501 Fayetteville Street. Choate chief operating officer Mike Hampton stated that workers were removing and lowering a mast climber on the building when the scaffolding collapsed. As of Monday night, it is still unclear whether the workers were tethered by harness to the building or scaffolding or on the scaffolding itself when it failed. A 911 caller reported witnessing the men falling more than 200 feet to the ground. Witnesses reported seeing the scaffodling collapse and crash into the fifth and sixth floors of the building. The scaffolding was operated by Associated Scaffolding in Raleigh. News reports indicate this is the first fatal accident for the company in 70 years, but that the company had been cited in 2007 for a scaffolding equipment-related violation and in 2009 for a welding storage violation.

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