State issues fine for deadly Winters crane accident

The state division of Occupational Safety and Health fined Disney Construction of Burlingame $106,110 last week for “serious violations” that led to the deaths of two workers on May 30 in a horrific crane accident.

The workers plunged 80 feet to their deaths from a platform being hoisted by a crane as part of a bridge-building project in Winters. An investigation by Cal-OSHA found the crane hadn’t been certified or inspected for defects, according to a news release issued Thursday.

“Employers in California are required to perform regular equipment inspections to identify and prevent mechanical problems that can lead to tragedy,” said Christine Baker, director of the state Department of Industrial Relations, Cal-OSHA’s parent agency.

Investigators also found the crane operator hadn’t performed an unmanned trial run or asked a “competent person” to inspect the rigging – and no qualified, trained person helped with the operation, the department said in its statement.

Disney Construction workers were building a new car bridge in May across Putah Creek, which forms the border of Yolo and Solano counties. They were using a crane to drive piles when a cable broke near its top. A second crane hoisted a platform with two workers – Marcus Powell of Los Gatos and Glenn Hodgson of Richmond – to troubleshoot the problem.

As they were hoisted, the rigging on the second crane dislodged, and the workers and platform fell, the department said.

“Specific regulations are in place to operate cranes safely. This incident is a sobering reminder of the tragedies that can occur when safety protocols are not followed,” said Juliann Sum, acting chief of Cal-OSHA.

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