CA: Bay Area Contracting Co. Where Worker Was Recently Killed Had Numerous Violations in the Past


San Francisco, CA ( - An Oakland-based construction company has fallen under scrutiny after a work-related accident that turned deadly recently at Muni’s West Portal Station in San Francisco. 53-year-old Patrick Ricketts, a signal technician, was killed when a temporary steel beam struck him during construction on the Twin Peaks Tunnel. 

According to reports, Shimmick Construction misled transit officials when they applied for the Twin Peaks Projects, by omitting that they have had numerous safety violations in the past with OSHA. Media outlet investigators found that in the last decade, the construction company had been cited for approximately 59 workplace violations. Some of those citations includes were for severe violations that were related to an accident in November 2016 where a worker was ejected from a forklift and then fatally crushed.

Work on the tunnel stopped after the accident, but was resumed on Monday.

And in 2011, Shimmick Construction made news headlines after being fined by the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration for more than $190,000 for alleged willful and serious violations. The company and their joint venture partner, Obayashi Corp., were cited 14 times, stemming from workers who were hit twice by a 2” diameter gas line that was exposed with a back hoe at a water treatment plant job site located in Yorba Linda (Orange County).

In March 2011, the first state work safety investigation of the primary accident was in progress, when, that following month, a second back hoe operator hit that same gas line, with the same foreman that was in charge during the first one. 

Shimmick Construction challenged the willful allegations, and in the end, the willful designation was removed.

Documents obtained by NBC Bay Area showed Shimmick responded that it had not been cited for any serious and willful safety violations by Cal/OSHA in the past 10 years.

Paul Rose, the spokesman for SFMTA said in a statement: “In order to pre-qualify companies to bid on projects such as the Twin Peaks Tunnel, the SFMTA uses an industry-wide standard that takes into account their workers' compensation claims as well as safety record.” 

John Gallagher, the spokesman for Shimmick, did not comment to media outlets on Cal/OSHA violations, but said, “The safety of our employees and the public is core to everything we do. We are all deeply saddened by this terrible tragedy, and we are working with all relevant agencies as they continue to investigate the matter." 

Frank Polizzi, DIR Public Information Officer for Cal/OSHA told in a phone interview that, “An inspection has been opened to determine the cause of the incident. By statute, Cal/OSHA has six months to issue citations for most violations of workplace safety regulations, and the inspections tend to take 3-6 months.”

The Twin Peaks Tunnel seems to be no stranger to dangerous situations. Even during its original construction more than 100 years ago, the tunnel was the site of numerous deaths. 

During construction in 1915, a cave-in at the western entrance of the tunnel trapped several men and killed one. Later that same year, fire broke out inside the tunnel. In 1917, four men were killed and several others were injured when a blasting charge did not go off and workers investigated the situation. And that same year a nearby house was nearly blown off of its foundation when a blasting charge went off.

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