Wednesday, November 10, 1999

Hawaii Stevedores cited,
fined over safety violations

By Treena Shapiro


Federal investigators have cited and fined a local ship loading company for the second time this year for endangering employees.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued Hawaii Stevedores Inc. citations and fines totaling $89,000 on Monday, following investigation of a drowning this spring at Barbers Point. The other fines and citations were in June.

On May 25, Hawaii Stevedores' operation supervisor Edgar Fernandez drowned after accidentally driving a forklift off a pier into 40-foot deep water.

OSHA issued the company a citation and a $19,000 penalty for failing to install 10-inch curbs or similar barriers at work areas on Pier 5 at Barbers Point Harbor, a 500-foot pier where forklifts and other vehicles are used to load and unload ships.

The company also was cited for not developing an adequate emergency action plan.

Hawaii Stevedores also received a citation and $70,000 in penalties for failing to install a barrier at Fort Armstrong's Pier 1, another location where vehicles are used.

According to Alan Traenkner, director of enforcement and investigations for OSHA in San Francisco, an adequate emergency action plan would have anticipated emergencies employees might be exposed to.

Despite employees' proximity to water, Hawaii Stevedores' plan didn't address a person falling into the water.

"Their plan didn't talk about rescuing an employee from the water at all," he said.

The accident could have been prevented if the pier had been curbed, Traenkner said.

"The victim who had gone over the side may have been saved if they had a good emergency action plan, but they didn't have that either," he added.

After the May accident, OSHA posted a notice of imminent danger at Barbers Point to warn employers not to use vehicles on the pier until temporary curbing was installed.

On June 11, OSHA informed Honolulu ship loading companies of the dangers of working without curbs and warned employers that they would be cited for noncompliance. OSHA then began inspecting the companies.

Only Hawaii Stevedores had not complied by the time it was inspected, but temporary railings have since been installed.

In June, the company received other citations and a $135,000 fine because an employee was seriously injured after a 32-foot fall from a stack of shipping containers last December. OSHA said the employee was not properly secured.

"Any time you put a worker on top of a container, they have to be secured, tied off with a lanyard," Traenkner said.

Hawaii Stevedores has contested the June citations, and the case is scheduled to be heard before an federal administrative law judge Jan. 18, 2000.

Kenneth Hipp, attorney for Hawaii Stevedores, said the company filed a contest of the charges yesterday.

"We are contesting the citation and the citations are nothing more than a charge, not a finding, and are subject to hearing," he said. "We continue to believe we will be vindicated through the hearing process."

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