Union Rep describes working conditions at Pawtucket Mill weeks before collapse
After a partial building collapse in Pawtucket sent three workers to the hospital Monday, questions are now being raise about the working conditions by a union representative who claims to have been at a site inspection three weeks before the accident.
Workers were in the process of transforming the old building into housing when the second story floor gave way and sent the workers tumbling to the basement of the mill.
Justin Kelley is the business agent for the Rhode Island Painters Union who said he saw the site at a routine inspection.
"One of the things that immediately stuck out to me was that none of the workers had personal protective equipment. They're dealing with asbestos remediation," Kelley said. "I can say with 100% certainty that an accident like this is 100% avoidable."
Kelley claims the general contractor of the project, Metric Construction, was at the same inspection he was a part of. Kelley said the superintendent told him and other colleagues about what the demolition crew would do if OSHA arrived.
"Their superintendent literally told us to our faces that they had a code word for the demolition company inside that when OSHA showed up they just went ahead and said that code word and stopped the unsafe work they were doing in an unsafe manner," Kelley said.
Despite that, Kelley said the blame doesn't just rest on the contractors. He said everyone on the job is in some way responsible.
"Safety is everybody's job from municipal officials, to state officials, contractors and workers," Kelley said.
The public information officer in Pawtucket, Wilder Arboleda told ABC 6 the building will not be condemned and they are hoping to continue work as soon as the building is cleared by the structural engineer.
Metric Construction told ABC 6 no comment while the building's owner did not return our calls.