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Cal/OSHA cites contractors for serious safety violations in tunnel fatality


The Division of Occupational Safety and Health of California on Wednesday announced it has issued a $65,300 fine to a joint venture formed between two contractors allegedly responsible for multiple serious safety violations after a worker was fatally struck by a steel beam in 2018 while working on a light rail tunnel project in San Francisco.

Shimmick Construction Co. Inc., of Oakland, California, and San Francisco-based Con-Quest Contractors Inc. formed a joint venture to work on the rail rehabilitation project in central San Francisco, upgrading signal systems and other parts of the over-100-year-old tunnel, according to a statement by Cal/OSHA.

In August 2018, employees were using heavy equipment and tools to work in and around the tunnel when one worker who was operating a rail crane pushed two flat railcars loaded with equipment into the tunnel. The crane’s boom was in an upward vertical position when it struck an overhead steel beam, dislodging it from its support brackets. It fell about 13 feet, fatally crushing an employee walking nearby, according to the statement.

Cal/OSHA investigators learned the two employers did not identify the potential hazards presented by pushing two loaded flat railcars into the tunnel and did not control the crane’s travel to avoid collisions. Investigators discovered the crane operators had not been trained to safely operate the equipment, and workers had not been trained on safety procedures when the crane was being operated near them, according to the statement.

Cal/OSHA cited the joint venture $65,300 in proposed penalties for two serious and two serious accident-related violations for the employers’ failure to implement an effective injury and illness prevention plan, failure to control the crane while it was moving and failure to safely transport workers while in the tunnel, according to the statement.

Neither contractor could immediately be reached for comment.

“Hazards in tunnel construction work can include cave-ins, falling objects and breathable airborne contaminants,” Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum said in the statement. “Employers must identify and evaluate the particular hazards in their workplace and train employees on safe work practices to avoid injury, illness or even death.”





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