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Details Released After Water Plant Death

Thursday, March 18, 2021

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Last week, a mechanical contractor employee from Murray Co. (Rancho Dominguez, California) fell to his death while securing a lid on top of a below-grade concrete tank at the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant in Playa del Rey, California.

The 43-year-old contractor, José Perez, was pronounced dead at the scene.

What Happened

On March 8, an incident was reported at 1:18 p.m. involving the fatal fall of Murray Co. mechanical contractor, Perez. According to Jim DeFlavio, Murray President and CEO, Perez was there to secure a lid on top of a below-grade concrete tank.

Los Angeles Fire Dept. spokesperson Brian Humphrey reported that Perez fell 25 feet, into a 15-foot-by-15-foot pit-like confined space that was mostly dry, with a small amount of moisture at bottom. The Department performed a confined space rescue involving some 47 responders, however, despite CPR efforts from bystanders and aid until professionals arrived, Perez was later pronounced dead at the scene.

The Los Angeles County coroner has since ruled the incident as an accident. Although, it is unknown at this time if Perez was wearing appropriate safety equipment when he fell.

“We are devastated by the loss of our employee, who has been an important part of our Murray company family since 2002,” said DeFlavio.

Perez had been working for Murray since 2002. The company has been completing work for the city for several years on a variety of projects. In 2010, the company completed a mechanical piping project at the Hyperion plant, which consisted of installing and operating a digester gas-natural gas-fueled combined cycle cogeneration system.

While DeFlavio reported that the company couldn’t release additional information on the accident, he’s since noted that Murray is investigating and “continues to work with the city of Los Angeles and other public agencies and cooperate with the ongoing investigation.”

As a result of the incident, California's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has also launched an official probe into the accident and will not release any details until it is completed. CalOSHA spokesperson Luke Brown estimates the report will take roughly six months.

Workplace Safety

Earlier this month, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently revealed its annual top 10 most frequently cited workplace safety standards for fiscal year 2020. The list was presented exclusively with the National Safety Council.

Fall Protection—General Requirements remained the most frequently cited standard for the 10th year in a row.

“In a year that was defined by the ongoing pandemic, workplace safety became more important than ever,” NSC President and CEO Lorraine M. Martin said in a statement. “The OSHA Top 10 list reminds us why we must continue to focus on persistent safety risks as we navigate new challenges. These data help us pinpoint areas where we can improve so we can better prioritize workplace safety in the future world of work.”

The Top 10 most frequently cited standards for FY 2020 are:

  1. Fall Protection—General Requirements (1926.501): 5,424 violations;
  2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200): 3,199;
  3. Respiratory Protection (1910.134): 2,649;
  4. Scaffolding (1926.451): 2,538;
  5. Ladders (1926.1053): 2,129;
  6. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147): 2,065;
  7. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178): 1,932;
  8. Fall Protection—Training Requirements (1926.503): 1,621;
  9. Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment—Eye and Face Protection (1926.102): 1,369; and
  10. Machine Guarding (1910.212): 1,313.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Fall protection; Fatalities; Health & Safety; Health and safety; NA; North America; OSHA; Safety; Wastewater Plants

Comment from Thomas Van Hooser, (3/18/2021, 9:12 AM)

It would be very interesting to see results of this organizations last site safety inspection by the qualified person(s). This unsafe condition could have been easily identified during a vaible safety inspection by a qualified professional.

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