Deadly Accidents at Bay Area Construction Sites Prompt State Safety Inspections

Two workers died recently in the area-- one in San Mateo and another in San Jose-- and now Cal/OSHA is stepping in.

Patch file photo by Renee Schiavone.
Patch file photo by Renee Schiavone.
By Bay City News Service

 State safety regulators are taking a closer look at Bay Area construction sites after two worker deaths in San Jose and San Mateo this month and two more in Southern California.

 "Construction sites present special challenges to worker safety," state Department of Industrial Relations director Christine Baker said in a statement. "Employers need to have strong safety programs in place and train their workers to follow procedures."

 Investigators will be inspecting construction sites throughout the Bay Area in the coming weeks to make sure that adequate measures have been taken to ensure workplace safety, according to the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

 Falls cause more deaths on construction sites than anything else and Cal/OSHA is encouraging employers to discuss how to avoid them during what the agency has designated "National Safety Stand-Down" week from June 2-6.

 But fall protection is just one of the things that Cal/OSHA investigators will be looking at in the coming weeks -- also checking for trench safety, equipment safety and any potential hazards like power lines.

 Inspectors have the power to stop work at a site if such hazards are found and any employers not in compliance with safety regulations will be cited and ordered to correct the violations, according to Cal/OSHA.

 The inspections were spurred by two fatal falls in two days in the Bay Area earlier this month, as well as two construction worker deaths in Southern California. On May 21, Victorino Campos-Tovar, 48, was killed when he fell three stories while unloading sheet rock for Foundation Building Materials at a residential building project near Sierra Road and North Capitol Avenue in San Jose.

 The day before, 54-year-old Elias Vera of Fairfield, a subcontractor with the concrete company Conco, died when he fell nine feet from a wall while working on a townhouse as part of a new housing development at the site of the former Bay Meadows racetrack in San Mateo.

 Cal/OSHA is investigating both incidents.

 In Southern California, a worker in San Diego died when a 22-foot rebar column fell on him on May 20. Two days earlier, a construction worker was killed when a train bridge he was working on in downtown Riverside collapsed, according to Cal/OSHA.


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