When Cal/OSHA inspectors found an 11-foot unshored excavation at a construction site, the agency issued a stop-work order the same day. Three weeks later, work restarted despite failure to correct the hazards. Now two companies face large fines.
Cal/OSHA has cited general contractor EMI Design & Construction Inc. of San Mateo with 10 safety violations, including two willful and three serious, with proposed fines of $164,465. Salt Light Investments Inc. of Berkeley, a construction project management company, faces three violations, including two willful, for a total of $140,375 in fines.
On April 20, an inspection at a residential construction site in Piedmont turned up the 11-foot unshored trench. Cal/OSHA says the trench constituted an imminent danger because it exposed workers to cave-in hazards. Cal/OSHA told the two companies to stop work until the imminent hazard was abated.
Three weeks later, work restarted without abatement of the hazard.
Both EMI and Salt Light were issued willful violations for failing to shore up an excavation that was as deep as 11 feet and for a lack of a design for proper shoring. EMI was also cited with three serious violations for an unguarded floor opening, an unguarded wall opening and unguarded exposed rebar ends.
“Cal/OSHA issues stop work orders when there’s evidence of an imminent hazard to workers,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “The employers’ blatant refusal to protect their workers from a cave-in hazard put their employees’ lives at risk.”
A similar hazard caused a worker’s death at a Milpitas, CA, construction site in January 2012.
Raul Zapata, 36, was installing a concrete foundation for a retaining wall at a residential development. The 12-foot wall collapsed, burying him alive. He died before rescue crews arrived.
A California judge sentenced the owner and project manager of a construction company to two years in prison for involuntary manslaughter in connection with Zapata’s death.