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After Review, Stadium Death Draws Fines

Thursday, December 19, 2013

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Rescinding a “no violation” decision, California labor officials are now holding an elevator contractor responsible for the death of a worker on the San Francisco 49ers stadium project.

The California Department of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has cited Schindler Elevator Corp. for three serious violations and fined the company $54,000 in the death of Don White.

White, 63, a certified elevator mechanic, was fatally struck by an elevator counterweight June 11 while working on a ladder in an elevator shaft at the 49ers’ new Levi’s Stadium.

Donald White
Family Photo

Cal/OSHA has cited the employer of Don White, 63, (right) a certified elevator mechanic, who was fatally struck by an elevator counterweight June 11 at the San Francisco 49ers’ new Levi’s Stadium.

The agency had cleared Schindler in the case but decided to reopen it Oct. 22—eight days after another worker was killed on the same project. The agency did not explain its reversal.

The second victim, Edward Erving Lake II, 60, was crushed by a load of rebar that was being unloaded from his truck at the site. Lake was an employee of Gerdau Ameristeel, based in Tampa, FL. Cal/OSHA is still investigating Lake’s death.

The 49ers' $1.2 billion stadium is due to open in 2014. Turner-Devcon is the general contractor.

Serious Citations

Cal/OSHA fined Schindler $18,000 for allegedly failing to ensure White’s safety by allowing him to be in the “zone of danger” while the elevator and counterweight were in operation, according to the citations.

Another citation, also carrying a $18,000 penalty, alleges failure to enclose the counterweight with a guard. A third citation, also carrying an $18,000 fine, accuses Schindler of exposing White to the “reciprocating and running actions of the counterweights,” Cal/OSHA said.

A special order also requires the Morristown, NJ-based company to develop written procedures to prevent workers from being exposed to "hazardous energy created by moving parts within an elevator hoistway and/or pit." The procedures must be developed by Jan. 11.

Company Response

Schindler told members of the media that it intended to “vigorously contest” the citations.

Levi's Stadium
HNTB Architecture

San Francisco 49ers' new stadium is scheduled to open in 2014. Two workers have been killed on the project.

"It is important to note that no additional facts were solicited by Cal-OSHA from Schindler prior to its reversal of findings," the company told the Associated Press. "We believe that Cal-OSHA's initial notice of no violation was an appropriate conclusion."

The company has manufactured elevators and escalators since 1874.

Safety Record

Schindler Elevator has a record of federal safety violations, according to OSHA records.

In 2012, the company was cited on nine separate occasions throughout the U.S.

Those records include:

All of those cases remain open, according to OSHA records.

In addition, OSHA cited and fined the company after an employee fell and broke his pelvis in an elevator shaft in Palo Alto, CA, in April 2011.

The records also show a fatal accident in December 2010. In that case, the Schindler employee had been working alone and was found unresponsive in an elevator pit, caught between an elevator car and a ladder. OSHA said the elevators "had not been properly deenergized or locked out."

Schindler was initially cited for 23 violations and fined $69,300. The case remains open.

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Enforcement; Fatalities; Health and safety; OSHA; Stadiums/Sports Facilities; Subcontractors

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