Cal/OSHA Fines Construction Firm $18,000 After Bridge Fatality

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has issued a serious citation to Tutor Saliba Koch Tidewater Joint Venture for violating California workplace safety regulations after an employee died in July 2004 during a work accident on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge near San Francisco.

"As a result of our investigation, inspectors determined that proper training was not provided that could have prevented the accident," Cal/OSHA Acting Chief Len Welsh said. "An accident-related serious citation was issued, meaning that the violation resulted in the death of the employee." The serious citation carries a penalty of $18,000.

The employee who died, Miguel Rodriguez Jr., was part of a crew performing earthquake retrofitting on the bridge, according to Cal/OSHA spokesperson Renée Bacchini.

Cal/OSHA alleges that the accident was caused by an employee operating an Ingersol Rand winch without prior training. The Cal/OSHA reports indicate that the employee operating the winch did not have it in gear, which caused an 1,800-pound steel beam to fall about 20 feet, Bacchini said. The beam crashed through a plywood platform the employees were working from, and the impact was enough to cause Rodriguez to lose his balance and hit his head, which was the cause of death, Bacchini said. Rodriguez then plummeted into the water below.

The Marin (Calif.) Independent Journal reported "at least one co-worker dived into the chilly water in an attempt to rescue Rodriguez, but he was declared dead after being pulled from the water at Point Molate on the Richmond side."

The San Rafael-Richmond Bridge connects the north part of San Francisco Bay to the east bay, Bacchini said.

Failing to train an employee given a new job assignment violates California safety regulation 8CCR 3203(a)(7)(C). Section 3203 may be accessed from the Department of Industrial Relations Web page at http://www.dir.ca.gov/Counters/t8index.htm.

Tutor Saliba Koch Tidewater, which, according to the Marin Independent Journal, was formed specifically for the bridge project, has 15 working days to appeal the citation.

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