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Regulators fine firms $65k over Twin Peaks tunnel worker death

State regulators charged with making sure workers are safe from hazards at work fined two construction companies for the death of a crew member who died last year while working on San Francisco’s Twin Peaks Tunnel project.

Cal/OSHA fined the joint venture between Shimmick Construction Co., Inc., and Con-Quest Contractors Inc. $65,300 for two serious and two serious-related safety violations related to the death of signal technician, Patrick Ricketts.

The serious safety violations are related to the employers’ failure to carry out an injury and illness prevention plan, and for failure to control the crane. The serious violations are related to the employers’ failure to safely transport its workers in the tunnel.

On Aug. 10 last year, a temporary steel beam fell on Ricketts, leading to his death. Cal/OSHA said a crew member was operating a rail crane to push to rail cars carrying equipment into the tunnel. The crane’s boom struck a steel beam and fell 13 feet on Ricketts, investigators said.

Investigators said they learned the two construction companies did not recognize the potential hazard of pushing the two flat rail cars into the tunnel. They also learned the persons operating the crane were not properly trained and other workers had not been trained on safety procedures when working near a crane.

After Ricketts’ death, Supervisor Norman Yee called on city departments, including the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency who was overseeing the Twin Peaks Tunnel project, to better vet construction bids for projects at hearing last year.

Shimmick had been previously cited for several safety violations where injuries were “serious and willful.” The SFMTA had asked if they had such violations during the bidding process and the company responded marked “No” in its response.

Some of those violations are in the appeal process, which sparked debate at the Board of Supervisors hearing whether Shimmick had been truthful on the SFMTA questionnaire.

The construction companies have 15 business days upon receiving the penalty notification to appeal the fine.

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