The condominium tower’s eighth-floor balcony collapsed onto the lower balcony, killing construction worker Jose Pereira on February 24.
Photo Courtesy Wildwood Fire Department
A failure to properly stabilize a balcony that later collapsed and improper securing of lifelines are among the findings of an investigation by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration into the fatal collapse of an oceanfront balcony in Sea Isle, N.J., back in February.
Construction worker Jose Pereira, 43, was killed when concrete debris from a collapsing eighth-floor balcony on a residential building fell onto the balcony below. Pereira’s employer and the project’s contractor, Ferguson Contracting of Yardley, Pa., was issued five violations and more than $18,000 in proposed fines by OSHA, the agency announced Aug. 23. 
Pereira, a married father with three daughters, was working on the exterior of the south tower of the Spinnaker Condominiums at 3700 Boardwalk in Sea Isle on the afternoon of Feb. 24, standing on a seventh-floor balcony when the balcony above him collapsed, pinning him underneath. Witnesses told police they heard Pereira’s screams for help, but he was pronounced dead at the scene just before 10 p.m. the same day, police said.

OSHA says its investigation found that “the balcony was not inspected by a competent person as the work progressed to determine if shoring or bracing was needed.”
Furthermore, the regulator says Ferguson Contracting Inc. did not instruct employees on how to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions, such as removing excessive amounts of concrete during the balcony repair, sawing through rebar in the balcony and shoring and stabilizing the balcony prior to starting work.
Vertical lifelines were not fastened to a fixed safe point independent of the scaffold and were not protected from sharp edges and abrasion, OSHA says. Investigators also found that a lifeline used for fall protection for a suspended scaffold “was anchored to a vent pipe.”
Ferguson also was cited for failing “to furnish employment and a place of employment free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees who were exposed to the hazard of being caught in a structural collapse.”
Ferguson also failed to identify and evaluate the respiratory hazards in the workplace, OSHA says, including “a reasonable estimate of employee exposure for workers who were performing restoration work on existing exterior balconies that included chipping and cutting operations, while respiratory hazards were not identified.”
OSHA says no written hazard communication program existed at the work site, the employer did not have safety data sheets at the job site for the chemicals that the employees utilized during their workday including cement, gas, and protective coatings, and employees were not provided with effective information and training on hazardous chemicals in their work area.
Ferguson Contracting Inc. has no prior history of OSHA violations, according to OSHA.
Pereira’s brother and another worker also were on the eighth floor balcony when it collapsed, investigators say. Pereira’s mother, Aurora Soto, Pereira’s mother, said in a interview with CBS News 3 Philadelphia in February that her son’s death “should have been preventable.”
Spinnaker and Ferguson did not respond to requests for comment. Ferguson has until Aug. 29 to make the first correction or face additional fines, according to the OSHA citations.
A GoFundMe page set up by Pereira’s family has raised over $8,000 since the incident.

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