Roofing worker dies at Norristown, Pa. jobsite for Amazon

A New Jersey worker who was building an Amazon warehouse in Norristown died last week after falling from the roof of the building, according to federal and local authorities.

Wilmer Mejía Landaverde, 24, from Trenton died on July 6 as a result of the fall, according to OSHA, which is investigating the incident. The accident happened around 3:48 p.m. at 53 West Germantown Pike, according to East Norriton police. Amazon was not involved in the construction and is not being investigated.

Trenton-based B & C Construction Contractors employed Mejía, the family name. The general contractor for the Norristown construction site was Malvern-based IMC Construction, according to OSHA.

Mejía’s brother, Josué, said Mejía is a Honduran citizen and the family has a small cattle ranch in the Copan region of western Honduras. Mejía has been working in the roofing trade in the United States since around 2015, his brother said.

Josué said he and his brother replaced the roofing material about 25 feet above the ground before Mejía’s fall. He remembered that he and his brother had removed the seat belts while fetching water, which according to Josué Mejía is not uncommon on a construction site.

“We had a cable [attached]. As you work, put it on and off. Maybe five minutes on, one minute break, then on again, ”Josué Mejía said in Spanish to an Inquirer reporter. “At that minute we unfortunately stopped drinking water because of the heat [and took off the cable]. And when we got back we didn’t put it back on right away. That often happens with these jobs. “

A representative from B & C Construction declined to comment.

In a statement, an official from IMC Construction, the general contractor, said: “Despite extensive safety training, inspections, procedures, instructions, on-site security personnel and mandatory safety requirements, the worker was watched by his staff as he removed his mandatory safety leash from his seat belt while he was on the roof and fell within minutes. “

OSHA, which determined the accident site was non-union, has conducted three additional inspections of IMC Construction’s construction sites since 2017, including one last month in Whitehall, Leigh County. Online records do not tell what the inspections showed.

Rapidly expanding across the region, Amazon had nearly 60 facilities online or operational as of April, including at least seven smaller facilities in Philadelphia and much larger ones in West Deptford, Carneys Point, Reading, and Wilmington.

In a statement, Amazon spokesman Branden Baribeau noted that the Norristown site is being built by a general contractor with no Amazon employees.

“We are saddened by this tragic incident and we extend our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones,” he said. “Our understanding is that OSHA is investigating and we will work with them if necessary.”

OSHA said it had up to six months to complete the investigation. In addition to B&C Construction Contractors and IMC Construction, the agency announced that it was investigating the primary roofer, whom it originally identified as A. Poletto & Associates, based in West Chester.

According to information from IMC Construction, the company was the primary roofing company for the construction site, according to OSHA.

However, Tony Poletto, a representative for A. Poletto & Associates, said the company was not working on the Norristown project and said another company, Poletto Roofing, was the registered contractor. The two companies “are separate and distinct legal entities with no common ownership,” said Poletto’s attorney Stephen McDonnell.

Ed McGinn, an attorney for Poletto Roofing, declined to comment.

According to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the deadliest jobs in Pennsylvania were construction and the private transportation and storage industries. Both sectors recorded 26 deaths in the state in 2019.

According to federal data, 5,333 workers died at work, or about 15 deaths per day, nationwide in 2019. According to OSHA, in fiscal 2020, which ends in September, the most frequently violated fall protection safety standards were.

“Falls are one of the most common causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths,” warn OSHA experts on the agency’s website. “Employers must set up the workplace in such a way that employees do not fall off suspended platforms, elevated workplaces or into holes in the floor and walls.”

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