PEARL HARBOR (HawaiiNewsNow) - A federal investigation found workplace safety violations led to the deaths of two workers at Pearl Harbor last December, and proposed fining two companies tens of thousands of dollars.
Two Navy subcontractors died and two others were hurt when the buoy they were working on at Pearl Harbor's Middle Loch fell toward them last December 10.
Joefrey Andrada, 42, of Waipahu was killed along with 30-year-old Justin Saragosa of Kapolei when they jumped or fell out of the way of the 7-ton buoy as it crashed onto their work platform.
A federal workplace safety investigation found violations of a common-sense requirement not to work directly underneath a heavy load.
"That's against OSHA regulations and that's against industry standards and practices. The bottom line is that you should not work under a load and you should not work above impalement hazards,” said Jeff Romeo, who directs the regional office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Romeo said the wire holding up the 7-ton buoy was insufficient.
"The wire rope was not rated strong enough, the way it was rigged, to lift that type of weight. Also, the way it was rigged, it allowed for a slack, which allowed for a shock load on the wire rope which essentially caused the wire rope to break," Romeo added.
Healy Tibbitts Builders, the subcontractor whose employees were doing the buoy work, was cited for five serious OHSA violations, with proposed fines of $30,600.
Maryland-based Truston Technologies, the main contractor, was hit with three serious violations, and OSHA proposed fining the company $15,400.
OSHA found three serious violations against the U.S. Navy, which owns the ships, but the Navy won't be fined because federal agencies don't fine each other.
"They failed to put all the safety procedures in place. They failed to protect these employees that were performing a dangerous job," Romeo said. "The shipyard industry is a dangerous occupation and the employers did have some safety practices in place, yet they failed to recognize or identify and control some of the hazards that were associated with this job."
The three entities have 15 working days to pay the penalty and correct the hazards or challenge the findings and fines, Romeo said. He said all three entities have scheduled informal conferences to try to reach settlements.
The top part of the buoy was connected to the bottom part of the buoy with 16 bolts that the companies knew were corroded because the buoy had been in the ocean for years, Romeo added.
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