Sources: Safety violations at scene of fatal Pearl Harbor accide - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Sources: Safety violations at scene of fatal Pearl Harbor accident

PEARL HARBOR (HawaiiNewsNow) - Several safety violations were discovered at Pearl Harbor's Middle Loch where two men died in an industrial accident Wednesday, sources said.

Numerous investigations are now under way to find out why a 5-ton buoy crashed into a group of workmen on a floating work platform, killing Joefrey Andrada, 42, of Waipahu, and Justin Saragosa, 30, of Kapolei.

There are separate probes by the Navy, insurance companies, contractor Healy Tibbitts Builders and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

People familiar with operations at Middle Loch, where decommissioned Navy ships are stored, said safety violations led to the fatalities there yesterday.

There was no safety officer as required, someone to watch out for dangerous situations, sources said.

And sources said contractors were not supposed to be working under such a heavy, 10,000-pound buoy.

"We're still looking at the facts to try to determine the exact locations of where these employees were located. If in fact, they were working directly underneath the load, then that would be an alarming situation," said Jeff Romeo, the OSHA Honolulu area director.

Romeo said since his agency's investigation is just underway, so he cannot confirm any allegations about safety violations.

But he said his agency's probe will be exhaustive.

"Take a look at the cranes, the equipment, the material, the buoy itself, the rigging equipment, we're going to take a look at the personal protective equipment that they were using or not using,” Romeo said. “We're going to take a look at the barges and find out what type of safety programs they had in place, what type of safety rules they had in place and determine whether they were actually following those rules and regulations."

Sources said the men who died were wearing hard hats, but they were shattered when the 5-ton buoy fell about 70 feet onto them as they worked below.

A spokeswoman for contractor Healy Tibbitts said the company is working closely with the Navy and OSHA but won't have anything to say about allegations of safety violations until an investigation determines exactly what happened.

The OSHA investigation is expected to take four to six months. OSHA fines can add up quickly with each serious violation carrying a $7,000 price tag.

The Navy will convene a Safety Investigation Board to look into the exact cause of the fatal incident. The board will consist of a 3- to 5-member independent team which includes a safety investigation advisor appointed by Naval Safety Center. The Navy's results and findings of the investigation will be completed by early February 2015, a Navy spokeswoman said.

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