Three Contractors Fined in Worker Death in California

June 27, 2002
The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) issued 11 citations for alleged violations of occupational health and safety laws and issued $155,950 in penalties against three contractors following its investigation of an accident in January that claimed the life of a worker.

Darryl Clemons was killed Jan. 4 when he was crushed to death by a work platform he was helping move. As Clemons and others were moving the platform, suspended beneath the upper deck of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, the center section of the platform buckled, crushing Clemons against the underside of the bridge. The platform weighed 18,000 pounds.

Cal/OSHA inspectors determined that the general contractor, California Engineering Contractors/Modern Continental, and the painting subcontractor, Robison- Prezioso, along with the equipment manufacturer, Beeche Systems, were responsible for the accident.

"The accident occurred because of the inadequate design and the overloading of the scaffolding," said Dean Fryer, a spokesman for Cal/OSHA spokesman.

The platform was constructed of aluminum tubing and plywood. Cal/OSHA investigators claimed the platform was not designed to support the necessary loads and that it was overloaded with more weight - workers and work materials - than it was intended to hold. They also said that some of the welds used to hold the platform together were inadequate.

Cal/OSHA fines are levied using a formula that takes into account the number and severity of the citations and the role they played in causing or contributing to the accident.

Fines are not levied to compensate for the loss of life or serious injuries, said Fryer, who added, "They're basically meant as a deterrent to keep employers from violating safety and health regulations." Clemons family filed a wrongful death suit against the contractors in March.

California Engineering was fined $79,000, Robison-Prezioso received $44,550 in fines, and Beeche Systems was issued $32,400 in penalties.

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