Contractor Blames Paint Supplier for Painter’s Forklift Death

Police LineA construction accident at a Springfield, Missouri, housing development site killed a 25-year-old painter last month. Now the man’s employer is blaming the company that supplied its paint for causing the tragic accident.

The incident occurred Thursday, March 24, at the Aspen Springfield center city housing complex. Joshua Halphin, of Springfield, was helping unload gallon buckets of paint from the forklift onto a fifth-floor balcony.

About 30 gallons of the paint had been loaded onto a plywood board that was placed on the lift truck’s forks, but the board had not been secured. While Halphin was unloading the paint buckets, the load apparently shifted and he fell approximately 50 feet to his death.

Contractor Blames Paint Supplier

Now Halphin’s employer, RF Barratt Enterprises LLC, has accused the paint supplier, Sherwin-Williams, of contributing to the man’s death by not following the contractor’s instructions.

“Halphin and two other painters were told by RF Barratt they would be carrying paint buckets up an enclosed stairway to the fifth-floor hallway,” according to a news release issued last week by the contractor. “Halphin and the other painters were new to the job and they did not have safety training for working at heights. Since the paint was to be carried up a stairwell, RF Barratt did not send its employees with experience in working at heights.”

But instead of carrying the 30 gallons of paint up five sets of stairs — as Sherwin-Williams had agreed to do — instead the paint supplier’s delivery person borrowed a forklift and operator, then ordered that the buckets of paint be loaded onto a sheet of plywood that had been laid across the vehicle’s forks. The load was then lifted up to the fifth-floor balcony, according to the RF Barratt news release.

Nearly a Ton of Paint

Each of the 30 gallons paint weighed an estimated 60 pounds. Halphin, who had only been employed by the contractor for about four months, fell approximately 50 feet from the balcony after the plywood sheet shifted while he was unloading the paint.

According to the RF Barratt news release, the contractor had spoken three times with the paint company’s employees to assure that Sherwin-Williams workers would hand-carry the paint gallons up the five flights of stairs at the construction site. When the paint was delivered, however, a paint company delivery employee asked if the contractor would lend them some of its workers to help carry the paint up to the job site.

OSHA Investigating

“As an accommodation” the contractor agreed, according to the news release. But instead of carrying the paint, the forklift was used to lift the paint up to the unguarded balcony.

“RF Barrat is focused on employee safety,” the release stated. “The company and its employees all mourn Josh’s death.”

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the incident.

In the meantime, Halphin’s family has started a GoFundMe page to raise the $3,000 it says it needs for his burial.

 

 

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