TRAVERSE CITY — Work safety inspectors reported violations at a Traverse City construction site three months before a newly built wall there collapsed, injuring four construction workers.

Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Hudsonville-based Bouwkamp Masonry after a March 17 inspection revealed some alleged breaches of MIOSHA standards, including some related to masonry wall safety, according to Camara Lewis, state Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity communications manager.

Inspectors cited the company for not establishing a restricted zone for a masonry wall taller than 8 feet and not posting danger signs on each unsupported masonry wall, Lewis wrote in an email.

“The wall that collapsed was not built at the time of inspection,” she wrote.

MIOSHA also cited the company for two instances of scaffolds that weren’t guyed, tied or braced according to manufacturer’s instructions and not installing guardrails on an open side or end of a scaffold taller than 5 feet, Lewis said in an email.

The company abated the violations and entered into a settlement agreement with MIOSHA, Lewis wrote. The case file will stay open until Bouwkamp Masonry meets all the agreement’s terms.

Calls to Bouwkamp Masonry went unanswered Friday, and an email to an address listed on the company’s website didn’t receive a response.

A different masonry wall collapsed Tuesday at the East Front Street construction site for Honor Bank’s future offices after witnesses spotted the wall leaning, as previously reported. Four employees were injured, one seriously, and two of them were trapped under debris. Traverse City firefighters quickly helped them and took them to Munson Medical Center — an update on their status wasn’t immediately available.

MIOSHA is investigating the collapse, and the administration doesn’t discuss ongoing investigations, Lewis wrote.

“Typically, this type of investigation may take several weeks or months to complete,” she wrote.

REI Construction is the project’s general contractor, and company site manager and partner David Moore previously told the Record-Eagle he doesn’t know why the wall collapsed. It had stood since May 14, and was built after construction workers returned to the site May 7.

Federal OSHA records show the state fined Bouwkamp Masonry for similar violations in past projects, one in 2017 and another in 2016. The records don’t give details beyond the standards inspectors believed were violated.

The state fined the company $200 for three violations, including for a breach of a standard requiring contractors to establish a restricted zone by a masonry wall and install bracing and signs, records show. That was in February 2016 at a job in Portland. They also cited the company for not installing a guardrail on scaffolding.

MIOSHA also fined the company $2,200 following a June 2017 inspection of a project in Grand Rapids that found three violations, records show. Among them was not installing guardrails on scaffolding — records indicate this was a repeat violation.

Bouwkamp Masonry and the state resolved both cases in a few months through informal settlements, records show.

These allow contractors and worker safety agencies to negotiate lower fines, modify or withdraw citations or penalties, reclassify the violation types or give the contractor more time to correct the problems, according to the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health.

 

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