Six months after a construction worker died while working on the Twin Peaks Tunnel in San Francisco, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health announced Wednesday it is citing the contractors connected to the project.
The joint venture formed between the two contractors, Shimmick Construction Co. Inc. of Oakland and Con-Quest Contractors Inc. of San Francisco, will be cited $65,300 for numerous safety violations that ultimately led to the fatality.
Patrick Ricketts, 51, died on Aug. 10 after a falling steel beam struck him near the West Portal end of the tunnel. Ricketts, a Colusa County resident, was employed by Shimmick Construction and was working on upgrading the 100-year-old tunnel, which serves as a corridor for San Francisco Municipal Railway light-rail vehicles.
Cal/OSHA's investigation into the case found that on the day of Ricketts' death, workers were using heavy equipment and tools to work in and around the tunnel.
As a worker operated a rail crane to push two flat railcars loaded with equipment into the tunnel, the crane's boom was in an upward vertical position and struck an overhead steel beam. The beam then dislodged from support brackets and fell 13 feet below, crushing Ricketts as he walked underneath, according to Cal/OSHA.
The investigation concluded that both Shimmick Construction and Con-Quest Contractors failed to identify the potential hazards in pushing the loaded flat railcars into the tunnel without controlling the crane's travel to avoid a collision.
Additionally, the crane's operators were not trained to safely operate the equipment, nor were workers trained on safety procedures when the crane was being operated close by, the investigation found.
"Employers must identify and evaluate the particular hazards in their workplace and train employees on safe work practices to avoid injury, illness or even death," Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum said in a news release.
In the wake of Rickett's death, it was revealed that Shimmick Construction has a history of violations, including a November 2016 case in which a worker operating a forklift died after losing control and going into a trench.
When applying for the Twin Peaks Tunnel construction job, Shimmick Construction reportedly checked "no" on documents that asked whether it had been cited for any serious and willful safety violations by Cal/OSHA in the past 10 years.
Work on the tunnel started in June 2018.
Following Ricketts' death, Muni officials announced that both Cal/OSHA and the San Francisco Police Department cleared the project for work to resume. The tunnel reopened two weeks after Ricketts died.