Cal-OSHA Cites Contractor in Golden Gate Bridge Death

California OSHA (Cal-OSHA) has cited Shimmick/Obayashi Joint Venture, the lead contractor in an earthquake retrofit project on the Golden Gate Bridge, following the investigation of the death of a construction worker last summer.

Kevin Noah tumbled approximately 50 feet to his death on August 13, 2002 while working on one of the massive concrete bridge supports. Although early reports indicated Noah might have tumbled from a mechanized basket, investigators determined he was probably tied off to a piece of rebar imbedded in the wall of the bridge support. He was probably standing on the rebar as well.

Cal-OSHA cited Shimmick/Obayashi for three serious violations and three less-than-serious violations and issued fines of $26,025 in fines for those violations and three that were classified as less serious. Cal-OSHA investigators noted there was no scaffolding in place in the area, and as a result, Noah fell to his death.

The company says it will appeal the penalty, and Scott Fairgrieve, a spokesman for the company, claims scaffolding wasn't required at the site and other safety measures were in place. "We have a very large disagreement between our interpretation and Cal-OSHA's of safety rules in regards to scaffolding," he noted.

Cal-OSHA spokesman Dean Fryer claims the company put up roadblocks to the investigation, to the point where the agency was forced to issue subpoenas to obtain documents and interviews with witnesses and other employees. "They exercised their legal rights almost to the point of abusing them," he added.

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