FORT PIERCE, Fla. -- Following the drowning death of an untrained worker, Lucas Marine Acquisition Co. LLC has been cited for 22 safety violations by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The employee died while doing surface supplied-air diving during underwater construction activities for the City of Fort Pierce Marina storm protection project on Aug. 6, 2013.
'Lucas Marine intentionally disregarded safety standards and sent construction workers underwater without proper training and without adequate equipment,' said Condell Eastmond, OSHA's area director in Fort Lauderdale. 'A worker should not have to sacrifice their life to earn a paycheck.'
Due to the willful violations found at the site, the company has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer's facilities or job sites.
OSHA issued three willful citations for the employer's failure to:
- Ensure workers performing underwater diving operations had adequate experience and training to perform the work safely.
- Provide employees engaged in diving operations with two-way voice communications for emergency assistance.
- Ensure the designated person-in-charge was trained and had experience with planning, performing and overseeing dive operations safely.
A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
Additionally, 12 serious violations include failing to provide members of the dive team with CPR training; assess the hazards of underwater conditions to include tidal current, underwater obstructions, limited visibility and marine traffic; inspect the air compressor, filters or regulators; and provide divers with a kink-resistant air line during dive operations. To view the current citations and seven other-than-serious violations, visit http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/LMAC_926866_20140204.pdf*
A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
OSHA has proposed $290,000 in penalties.
OSHA last inspected the company in March 2013. The inspection resulted in one serious and one other-than-serious citation in response to the death of an employee who was struck by a front-end loader that loaded barges. The employer entered into a settlement agreement with OSHA on Sept. 13, 2013, and paid $2,000 in penalties for the serious violation of failing to protect a 500-gallon portable steel tank containing diesel fuel from collision damage by a front-end loader.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, fatal work injuries in Florida accounted for 209 of the 4,383 fatal work injuries reported in 2012. Additional details are available at http://bls.gov/iif/home.htm.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Fort Lauderdale Area Office at 954-424-0242.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.