In a terse letter last month to Turner Construction company, Santa Clara County described a steam explosion at Valley Medical Center a year ago as “extremely serious” and “nearly fatal.”
But there is no record of that explosion, according to Cal/OSHA or Division of Occupational Safety and Health records, because no workplace injury report was ever filed stemming from the Sept. 3, 2014 accident.
Paramedics called to the hospital on Bascom Avenue in San Jose a year ago deemed that Joel Ferreria was not injured and he continued working that day and through the month, according to Turner Construction spokesman Larry Kamer.
Ferreria never was hospitalized and refused medical treatment, which would have triggered an Cal/OSHA notification. Cal/OSHA spokesman Peter Melton said that companies must report accidents that results in serious injuries, catastrophes or cases where employees go to the hospital for examination or treatment – neither of which occurred in this case. The cell phone video of the event, showed colleagues calling 911 after they pulled Ferreria out of the vault, telling 911 operators that he was OK, but they "just wanted to check him out."
Still, Melton said that employers are "encouraged" to report workplace death, "serious injury" or illness by phone.
Ferreria did, however, file a workman’s compensation claim a month after the steam explosion – shown on video released by the county on Tuesday – for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, state health records show. At the time, Ferreria was working for a Turner Construction subcontractor, Lescure.
In a phone interview on Wednesday, Ferreira said that he returned to work the next day but couldn't actually perform any tasks because he was feeling anxious and panicky. HE said he went to a doctor, who advised him he could be suffering from PTSD.
Santa Clara County leaders are in a heated and public battle with Turner Construction – which also built Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara - over a hospital project at Valley Medical Center they say is far behind schedule and in default by $300 million.
Kamer, however, said that the project is behind, in large part, because the county itself has caused delays with hundreds of sudden "change orders” and thousands of requests for clarifications and changes to the design.
As for releasing cell phone video of the explosion that happened a year ago, Kamer wondered aloud about the timing of the public airing of what appears to be serious but non-injury event.
“The county has been engaged in a highly unusual campaign and releasing the video now is suspicious,” he said. Despite the loud popping noises and expletives heard by employees on the video, Kamer said that the drama captured on a cell phone was not as serious as is being portrayed.
NBC Bay Area was the first to report on Friday that the hospital project was delayed and the county was poised to terminate Turner Construction from the job.