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Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Tradewinds elevator shaft accident leads to fines

The federal agency responsible for worker safety has issued a total of $84,000 in fines in connection with an April 24 accident at the TradeWinds Island Resorts in which a man was crushed to death by an elevator while cleaning out the bottom of the shaft.

The bulk of the fines — $61,000 — was leveled against Progressive Environmental Services, the Panama City Beach company for whom Mark Allen Johnson, 45, worked. It is also known as SWS Environmental Services.

Of the $61,000, $33,000 was levied because SWS had similarly failed to put safety measures in place at a work site in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, a few years ago.

The Tradewinds, which overlooks the Gulf of Mexico in St. Pete Beach, was also hit with fines — $23,000 worth, according to the citations issued this month by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Of the Tradewinds’ fine, $7,000 was levied because one of its employees hadn’t turned the power off to the elevator before Johnson and a co-worker had started pumping out oily water at the bottom of the shaft below. The elevator is located at the Jacaranda Beach Villas, a seven-story building within the resort.

Both the Tradewinds and SWS were slapped with $7,000 fines each for failing to communicate with each other, as they were required to before the elevator shaft was cleaned.

Tradewinds was also fined for, among other things, failing to have designated procedures for locking down an elevator before a cleanup or maintenance check and for failing to train employees in a lockdown procedure.

Keith Overton, president of Tradewinds Island Resorts, did not return a telephone call to discuss the fines.

SWS was fined because there were no specific procedures for securing hydraulic elevators before a shaft is cleaned, repaired or evaluated; and Johnson and his co-worker were never trained in securing elevators, so they didn’t do what they were supposed to.

SWS Environmental Services was issued a citation and notification of penalty, which lists all of its infractions, on Oct. 16.

From that date, the company has 15 days to contest the fines. If it doesn’t do so, the fines become permanent. The company also has to address all the procedural shortcomings by Nov. 7.

The Tradewinds received its citation and notification of penalty on Oct. 15 and has until Nov. 6 to address its procedural failings, according to OSHA.

It’s unknown whether SWS or the Tradewinds is contesting the penalties.

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