Cal/OSHA fines contractors for serious safety violations

Underground construction requires workers to face dangerous working conditions on a daily basis. One of the dangers is the occasional failure of employers to require workers to follow safety regulations. A fatal construction accident in August of 2018 in the Twin Peaks Tunnel rehabilitation project demonstrates just how dangerous such work can be.

Two San Francisco construction companies formed a joint venture to undertake the Twin Peaks Rehabilitation and Rail Replacement Project. The project included refurbishing infrastructure, replacing rails and upgrading signals in a rail tunnel that is more than 100 years old. On August 10, 2018, workers were using a crane car to push two rail flatcars into the tunnel. The boom on the crane had not been lowered, and it was in a vertical orientation. The crane struck an overhead steel beam. The beam was dislodged and fell about 13 feet, striking and killing a worker walking nearby.

Cal/OSHA soon commenced an investigation of the accident. Its investigators learned that partners in the joint venture did not identify potential hazards involved in using the rail crane to move two flat cars. Cal/OSHA investigators also learned that the crane operators had not been trained in the safe operation of their equipment. Cal/OSHA cited the joint venture for $65,300 in penalties for two serious and two serious accident-related violations. The citation for accident-related violations were directed at the employers' failure to implement an effective injury prevention plan and failure to control the crane while it was moving. A violation is classified as serious if it creates a realistic possibility of death or serious injury. A violation is classified as accident-related if it plays a causative role in the accident.

Anyone who has been injured or who has lost a loved one in an industrial accident that was the result of safety violations may wish to explore the possibility of recovering damages.

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