By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Three months after a construction worker was killed in a balcony collapse at a high-rise Sea Isle City condominium complex, the federal agency investigating the accident still hasn’t established the cause.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said in a brief update Tuesday that the investigation remains active.
A spokeswoman for the agency also said that the Pennsylvania-based company involved in the accident, Ferguson Contracting Inc., has no prior history of OSHA violations.
“Beyond that, because the investigation is ongoing and we do not want to jeopardize the investigative process, I have no additional details or comments at this time,” spokeswoman Joanna Hawkins said in an email.
OSHA has up to six months to conduct its investigation and release its findings about the Feb. 24 balcony collapse at the South Tower of the oceanfront Spinnaker condominiums.
The agency, which investigates workplace accidents, disclosed in February that concrete work was being done on the balconies when the accident occurred. It has said little else since then.
Jose Pereira, 43, an employee of Ferguson Contracting, was working on the exterior of the Spinnaker’s South Tower when the concrete balcony on the eighth floor collapsed and fell on top of him. He was standing on a balcony on the seventh floor.
Two other workers were on the balcony on the eighth floor when it collapsed, but they suffered only minor injuries and were treated at the scene.
Following the balcony collapse, Sea Isle shut down virtually all access to the Spinnaker’s South Tower while an engineering company determined whether the high-rise building is structurally sound.
An engineering report completed in March concluded that the structural integrity of the South Tower “remains intact” despite the balcony collapse. Once the building was deemed safe, the city allowed residents and business owners to return to the South Tower in late March.
The Spinnaker condominiums were built in the early 1970s and include twin north and south towers nine stories tall overlooking the ocean at 3500-3700 Boardwalk.
Each condo has a balcony facing the ocean, while most of the three-bedroom units also have a larger balcony on the side of the building, according to a chronology of the Spinnaker’s construction at History – Spinnaker (spinnakersic.com). It was one of the side balconies that collapsed on the eighth floor of the South Tower.
State Sen. Troy Singleton, who represents Burlington County, is calling on the Legislature to approve a bill he has proposed that would require more stringent inspections of multistory buildings in New Jersey.
The New Jersey legislation was proposed following a high-rise condominium collapse in the Miami suburb of Surfside, Fla., that killed 98 people in 2021.
Singleton has been quoted in media reports as saying that the Sea Isle balcony collapse gives even more urgency for approval of the New Jersey legislation.
Sea Isle Mayor Leonard Desiderio said during a City Council meeting in April that Sea Isle officials want to know more about Singleton’s bill before considering any new local requirements for construction contractors.
Desiderio was responding to a suggestion from one resident that Sea Isle should scrutinize the background of contractors to make sure they have the proper experience before they begin any construction projects in town.