Optional Safety Policy Allows Zip Line Worker to Fall to her Death


Honolulu, HI (WorkersCompensation.com) - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is fining the owners and operators of a Maui zip-line course the maximum amount allowed for the death of a new employee who fell from a platform while at work in May 2014.

OSHA investigators determined that Patricia Rabellizsa died because of inadequate safety measures in place on the platform at the Pi'iholo Ranch Zip-Line Course where she received riders arriving from the previous platform. The operator's policy made it optional for employees to wear restraining lanyards connected to their harnesses, which directly led to Rabellizsa's 125-foot fall into a ravine.

"When working 120 feet above a ravine, properly connected safety harnesses are absolutely mandatory, not optional," said OSHA Regional Administrator Ken Atha. "This young woman's tragic death could have been prevented had her employers valued her safety as much as they valued customer fun."

Rabellizsa had been working at the zip-line course for only three days when she lost her life. On the morning of May 1, Rabellizsa and a colleague were receiving the last two zip-line customers when she tried to capture one of them coming from the previous platform.

The zip-line customer's momentum pulled them both off the platform above the ravine. Rabellizsa, who was not wearing a properly latched safety harness, held onto the customer for several minutes before losing her grip and falling to her death. Her fellow receiver was strapped in and survived when the rider's momentum pulled him from the platform.

OSHA is citing owner Jeff Baldwin of Baldwin Brothers LLC for $7,000 and site operator Altres Inc. for $7,000. OSHA is fining both entities because Altres Inc., a local staffing agency, has a unique amount of control over the day-to-day operations at the facility.

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