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Concerns Raised About Wall Prior to Deadly Collapse at Ford Plant

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    An auto worker raised concerns to government inspectors about the condition of a wall at the Ford assembly plant in South Chicago more than a year before a section of it collapsed and killed a contractor on Saturday, according to documents obtained by NBC 5 Investigates. NBC 5's Chris Coffey reports. (Published Monday, Jan. 4, 2016)

    An auto worker raised concerns to government inspectors about the condition of a wall at the Ford assembly plant in South Chicago more than a year before a section of it collapsed and killed a contractor on Saturday, according to documents obtained by NBC 5 Investigates.

    Ford employee Donny Harris listed thirteen complaints about the facility when he notified the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in late 2014. Several of the complaints referenced conditions of the wall.

    “The paneling on the walls in many areas is barely hanging, looking as though they are ready to fall at any moment,” Harris wrote to OSHA.

    Harris also reported seeing “large holes that go directly through the building making it possible for small to medium sized animals to walk right in” and “huge bricks are halfway hanging out looking as though someday they will fall on a person.”

    OSHA investigated the complaints raised by Harris and found no evidence to support the allegations and no citations were issued.

    OSHA said construction workers on Saturday were in the process of making a final cut on the wall to install a double door when the wall collapsed, pinning contractor John J. Jaloway.

    Jaloway, 45, later died. A Ford employee who went to help him was injured.

    While there is no current investigation of Ford Motor Company, OSHA said it is investigating the subcontractor. A person who answered phone at the business said the company had no comment.

    According to Harris, Ford made minor repairs to everything he complained about after he contacted OSHA. He said the wall could have been identified in a way that would have made the construction workers take extra precautions.

    “I don’t believe this is coincidence that I filed a complaint about this wall saying it could fall on somebody and then a year later it happens,” Harris said.

    NBC 5 Investigates requested a comment from Ford regarding the alleged condition of the wall prior to the accident. In response, the automaker said it is cooperating fully with the investigation. A spokesperson said the company offers its sincere condolences to the victim’s family, friends and colleagues.

    Harris said he is nearing his four year work anniversary at Ford and that he loves working there. But he said he feels like it is his duty to speak out about the plant’s conditions.

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