CHARLOTTE — The companies building an apartment complex that caught fire over the summer, killing two workers, have been cited for violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of North Carolina. Their fines total more than $50,000.
The Department of Labor said Monday that it cited MCRT Carolinas Construction LLC, Kentucky Overhead Door Inc. and Diversified Insulation LLC.
Firefighters rescued 15 people on May 18 after a five-alarm fire broke out at an apartment complex being built on Liberty Row Road near Fairview Road. Two workers, Ruben Holmes and Demonte Sherrill, were killed.
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The DOL inspected the construction site on May 18 and 19. They cited each company with the following:
- MCRT Carolinas Construction LLC with three alleged serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of North Carolina with a total penalty of $46,875
- Kentucky Overhead Door Inc. DBA Baker Insulation with four alleged serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of North Carolina with a total penalty of $6,250
- The Labor Department cited Diversified Insulation LLC with one alleged serious violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of North Carolina with a total penalty of $3,125
MCRT Carolinas Construction, also known as Modera South Park, is accused of failing to provide “free and unobstructed egress from all parts of the building when occupied.” The DOL said on the day of the fire, there was only one stairway and the two men who died were 463 feet -- more than a football field -- away from it.
The two employees who died weren’t able to get to the stairs in time.
The citation also says there was no emergency response plan or alarm system in place. Investigators found there was no air horn or siren to alert workers of the emergency.
Kentucky Overhead Door Inc. DBA Baker Insulation is accused of failing to have a respiratory protection program and an “inventory list of all hazardous substances in the workplace.” They also allegedly failed to “maintain copies of the required safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals and employees were not provided effective information and training on hazardous chemicals in the work area.”
As for Diversified Insulation LLC, their citation says they “did not maintain workplace copies of the required safety data sheets for each hazardous chemical.”
The DOL said they consider factors like the “gravity of the violations, the size of the business, the good faith of the employer, and the history of previous violations” when they determine the fine. State statutes say each citation carries a maximum $15,625 penalty.
According to the Department of Labor, the money from the penalties will eventually be distributed to the North Carolina public school system.
Charlotte City Councilman Tariq Bokhari represents SouthPark. He told Channel 9′s Joe Bruno the fire was one of the most tragic days he’s experienced in Charlotte in 20 years. He said the fines are likely only the beginning of accountability and understanding of what exactly went wrong.
“This is something where, not just the eyes of Charlotte, but the eyes of the nation, have been trained on us,” he said. “So it is important for us to find out what the lessons are that everyone, not just us, can learn from it.”
The companies cited can file a notice of contest through the DOL within 15 business days of the citation. If they don’t, they must pay the penalty within that time period.
Channel 9 has reached out to each of the companies for comment.
“Mill Creek Residential Trust has received the report from the North Carolina Department of Labor regarding the fire and is carefully reviewing its findings,” reads the statement from Modera SouthPark. “We take matters relating to safety very seriously and will cooperate fully with authorities. We are forever mindful of the grief caused by this tragedy and will continue to implement best practices to help avoid situations like this in the future.”
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