The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration on May 18 fined three contractors a total of more than $64,000 for failing to conduct proper safety inspections before a construction worker was crushed to death at a Cathedral City, Calif., casino jobsite late last year.
Jay Ayers, 41, of Temecula, Calif., was fatally injured on Dec. 7 at the Agua Caliente Casino, when a 3,000-lb. metal gate collapsed near a loading dock and fell on him. He worked for Orange, Calif-based Raymond Group, a wall and ceiling firm that was a subcontractor to contractor Penta Building Group on the casino project, which opened in November.
Ayers' role at the firm and on the 30,000-sq-ft project on 13.6 acres was not provided. The casino owner, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, has not disclosed the project cost. Construction began in December 2019.
The local police classified the case as an accident. OSHA said Penta, along with Raymond Group and another subcontractor, No Limit Steel, failed to conduct inspections to discover hazards, instruct employees on how to recognize workplace dangers or install caution signs to warn workers about potential hazards.
The three contractors face $64,169 in combined penalties. “Required oversight and communication related to workplace safety and health could have prevented this tragic loss of life,” said OSHA San Diego Area Director Derek Engard.
OSHA did not disclose the number and nature of violations against the companies.
“The report is still open and we are continuing to work with OSHA until it is finalized,” said Penta in a May 21 statement. The Raymond Group could not be reached for comment; the police report is unavailable because Ayers' family has begun litigation against his former employer.
OSHA said the companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to either comply, request an informal conference with the agency area director or contest accident findings.
Penta Building Group, based in Las Vegas, ranked at No. 109 on ENR's 2020 Top 400 Contractors list.