Houston, TX (WorkersCompensation.com) – Three construction workers are dead and another is injured after a stairwell collapse in a 15-story building that was under construction.
The collapse came just hours after an inspection, officials said.
According to the Houston Fire Department, the stairwell collapsed on Monday afternoon. When the department responded to the accident, it was able to rescue the injured worker, and evacuate the other 236 workers at the site.
The injured worker was taken to a nearby hospital and was reported to be in stable condition.
Officials with the Houston Public Works department said the stairwell was a “precast interior” concrete staircase designed to look as if the stairs were floating. Alanna Reed, spokeswoman for the public works department said the stairs were “in the process of being set.” Inspectors from the department visited the site on Monday, shortly before the collapse, Reed said.
Inspectors found no “red flags,” Reed said. Inspectors were also onsite on Friday to approve a ceiling covering and found nothing to be concerned about.
“As far as our structural team was concerned, Harvey Builders was doing everything they were supposed to,” Reed said.
On Monday night, Harvey Builders released a statement regarding the collapse.
“Harvey Builders is working with the Houston Fire Department, our subcontractor East Texas Precast, and Hines, the project’s development manager, to investigate a fatal accident involving the collapse of a stairway.”
According to fire officials, the collapse started near the 13th and 14th floors. Assistant Chief Ruy Lozano of the HFD told KPRC the stairs collapsed to the first floor.
The deceased workers were not identified and had not been moved, as of late yesterday. Officials with the HFD said they were working to ensure the safety of the building before they could remove the bodies. Officials said they were concerned about the structural integrity of the building.
“It is far too early to determine what’s the structural cause,” Lozano said in a press conference. “But I can tell you anytime there’s a primary collapse, our biggest concern is a second collapse. That’s why we’re not permitting any other rescuers until we can confirm the stability of the structure.”
Lozano said recovery may take hours or days.
The building, in the City Centre area of West Houston, is planned as an office for Marathon Oil. Employees were set to move into the space in the second half of 2021, the company said when it announced plans for the site in January.
A spokeswoman for Marathon Oil said, “We are saddened to learn that an accident occurred at the construction site for the future Houston headquarters of Marathon Oil.” The company has “offered our assistance to the building contractors as they respond to this accident,” she said.