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safety & health
WORK ZONE SAFETY
Third Worker Death on Job Leads to Contractor’s Exit
 
An owner and contractor have parted ways after three fatalities on a powerplant project. Southern Co. has dissolved its contract with W.G. Yates and Sons Construction to build a powerplant in Rincon, Ga., after a worker died in a fall at the site May 5. Two other workers died in unrelated mishaps earlier in the year.

Kenny Bush, legal counsel for Philadelphia, Miss.-based Yates, says that his group had reached a mutual agreement with Southern. “This is something we saw that needed to be done,” he says.

Southern will take over management of the project and expects to bring the half-completed plant on line by the original June 2005 target date, says Ed Day, senior vice president for engineering and construction. The change was intended to “restore the confidence of the public in safety at the site,” he says.

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The McIntosh gas combined-cycle plant will supply electricity to Georgia Power Co. and Savannah Electric. Southern Co. on March 7 decided to sell the plant to Georgia Power after competitor Calpine Corp. asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to nullify a contract between Georgia Power and Savannah Electric for the purchase of the plant's power from Southern Power, Southern’s merchant power producer. Calpine questioned whether Southern Power had an unfair advantage in the bidding for the contract because it is part of Southern Co. (ENR 4/26 p. 16).

A spokesman for Southern says Georgia Power cannot wait for FERC to make a decision. “The level of uncertainty and risk with the contract is too great,” he says.

Southern already has managed similar projects elsewhere in the region and plans to hire using a labor broker. Many of Yates’ 600 to 700 employees are likely to be retained, says Day.

Yates had started work in early 2003. Neither party would disclose the value of Yates’ contract.

A spokesman for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says OSHA is investigating all three accidents. The most recent involved Yates ironworker Ryan McKenzie, 21, of Newport, Maine. He died May 5 after he fell about 75 ft from a platform. Neither Yates or Southern has commented on the accident. On Feb. 24, millwright Joe Lynn Bethany, 52, of Pearl, Miss., died when he fell through an opening in a platform meant for a piping conduit. Yates claims he had failed to attach a safety line. On March 10, ironworker Johnny Boyett, 48, of Bonifay, Fla., was killed after falling out of a jammed lift.



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