Company fined $50,000 in firefighter's diving death

Published: Nov. 10, 2011 at 11:35 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 10, 2011 at 11:47 PM HST
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Jeffrey Barbieto
Jeffrey Barbieto

By Ian Scheuring

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – A local company has been fined $50,000 following an investigation into the circumstances of a May 24, 2011 diving fatality that killed Jeffrey Barbieto, a 41-year old diver and Honolulu Fire Department firefighter.

Grove Farm Fish & Poi, also known as Hukilau Food, was found to have violated nineteen Hawai'i Occupational Safety and Health Division (HIOSH) regulations, including those that state the company is required to provide certain pieces of dive equipment as well as adequate procedures and protocols that may have been able to prevent the fatality.

Barbieto died while cleaning underwater moi cages operated by the company.

"This tragedy was preventable," said HIOSH Administrator Jennifer Shishido. "The lessons learned from past diving accidents have resulted in comprehensive protocols and regulations that, if implemented properly, would have prevented this fatality."

"It is important to remember each and every workplace accident victim as a person, a family member and one of our Hawaii ohana. We want to work together with employers to help insure workplace safety-employers who are uncertain about their responsibilities should call for a free, confidential consultation with HIOSH's Consultation and Training Branch," said DLIR Director Dwight Takamine.

Citations are being issued to Grove Farm Fish & Poi, LLC for:

1. Failure to prohibit a dive team member from diving during the period that the diver was sufficiently impaired as to adversely affect his/her safety and health.

2. Failure to develop and maintain a safety practices manual, which shall be made available at the dive location to each dive team member.

3. Failure to inquire into the dive team member's current state of physical fitness prior to each assignment and failure to indicate to each dive team member the procedure for reporting physical problems or adverse physiological effects during and after the dive.

4. Failure to provide a means for exiting the water that extends below the water surface and a means for assisting an injured diver from the water.

5. Failure to provide decompression, repetitive, and no-decompression tables at the dive site.

6. Failure to maintain a depth-time profile, including when appropriate, any breathing gas changes for each diver during the dive including decompression.

7. Failure to check the physical condition of the diver after each dive, including instructing the diver to report any physical problems or adverse physiological effects as well as the location of a decompression chamber which is ready for use.

8. Failure to provide a decompression chamber capable of recompressing the diver at the surface to a minimum of 165 fsw (6 ATA) at the dive location.

9. Failure to limit SCUBA diving at depths deeper than 130 fsw.

10. Failure to limit SCUBA diving at depths deeper than 100 fsw, or outside the no-decompression limits, where no decompression chamber was ready for use.

11. Failure to provide a clean standby diver to assist a diver in the water at any time during the diving operation.

12. Failure to require a diver to be accompanied by another diver (buddy system), maintaining continuous visual contact during the diving operations, or alternatively, line tending from the surface.

13. Failure to provide a diver-carried reserve breathing gas supply for each diver consisting of a manual reserve (J valve) or an independent reserve cylinder.

14. Failure to provide every diver with a buoyancy compensator device, aka BCD and require the diver to use the BCD for SCUBA diving.

15. Failure to provide and maintain a list of emergency contact numbers for an operational decompression chamber, accessible hospitals, available physicians, available means of transportation and the nearest U.S. Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Center at the dive location.

16. Failure to record and maintain accurate dive logs as required by the HIOSH Standards.

17. Failure to record and maintain depth-time and breathing gas profiles, decompression table designation, and elapsed time since last pressure exposure if less than 24 hours or repetitive dive designation for each dive outside the no-decompression limits, deeper than 100 fsw.

18. Failure to maintain records for each dive in which decompression sickness was suspected or symptoms were evident.

19. Failure to maintain records for each equipment modification, repair, test, calibration or maintenance service.

HIOSH has proposed penalties in the amount of $50,050. Hukilau Foods will be given the opportunity to contest the citations.

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