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Texstar Contests OSHA Fine In Bridgeport Building Collapse

November 13, 1987

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ A Texas company that lifted concrete slabs into place at a building site that collapsed has announced its intention to contest a $2.52 million federal fine proposed for alleged safety violations at the site.

Chris Geckler, vice president of Texstar Construction Corp. of San Antonio, Texas, said Thursday that the federal report on the cause of the collapse of the L’Ambiance Plaza apartment building in Bridgeport, Conn., is incomplete, inconsistent and inaccurate.

″Texstar believes further investigation is necessary to determine the cause of the collapse of the structure,″ Geckler said in announcing his company’s intentions to appeal the fine proposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

He declined to comment further.

″We have borne the brunt of allegations so far, and we will not follow the example of others who have released information that is based purely on speculation and conjecture,″ Geckler told The Hartford Courant.

OSHA proposed a record $5.11 million in fines against five companies working on the apartment building, which collapsed on April 23, killing 28 men. All five companies have said they intend to appeal the fines.

Friday was the deadline for the companies to notify OSHA that they will contest the fines.

The largest fines were imposed on Texstar and on TPMI-Macomber, a joint venture between TPM International of Darien, Conn., and B.H. Macomber of Boston. TPMI-Macomber was fined $2.5 million.

Federal officials concluded after a six-month investigation that a small bracket bent under heavy pressure from concrete slabs being jacked into place on floors, triggering the disaster.

Assistant Labor Secretary John A. Pendergrass, chief of OSHA, has said that a ″serious disregard for basic, fundamental engineering practices″ contributed to the collapse.

OSHA and the National Bureau of Standards concluded that builders failed to conduct stress-analysis tests to discover if the steel lifting brackets could hold up the stack of huge concrete floors.

OSHA cited Texstar with 238 instances of alleged willful violations for using lifting brackets that did not meet federal standards. The bureau requires that they be able to hold 2 1/2 times the anticipated load.

TPMI-Macomber was cited for identical willful violations because it was responsible under a contract for overall health and safety at the site, OSHA said.

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