Fatal Forklift Accident at ’49ers Stadium Construction

forklift safety signCalifornia’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined a San Diego company $36,750 in connection with a fatal forklift accident at Levi’s Stadium, the new home of the San  Francisco ’49ers football team.

Killed in the accident was Edward Erving Lake II, 60, of Vacaville, California. On October 14, 2013, a forklift operator was using his vehicle to offload rebar from a flatbed truck when the load dislodged, sending rebar tumbling on top of Lake, who was standing nearby.

Lake suffered massive head injuries and never regained consciousness. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he died a short time later.

Killed by Shifting Load

Lake had been employed by Gerdau Reinforcing Steel West. According to Cal-OSHA investigators, he had driven the load of rebar to the ’49ers new $1.3 billion stadium, which is being built in Santa Clara, just outside San Francisco. He had removed nylon straps from the rebar so two other workers could remove part of the load using a forklift, according to local news reports.

But when the forklift lifted one bundle of rebar, it dislodged a second bundle, which caused the rebar to roll down the driver’s side of the flatbed truck onto Lake. OSHA determined that the sight lines were obscured between the forklift operator and where Lake was standing.

The agency issued the fine after citing the company for three violations, two of which were categorized as serious and one that was general.

While Gerdau did have posted rules that told drivers to either stay inside the cab of their truck or to keep away from the flatbed during unloading, Cal-OSHA said the company didn’t do enough to enforce the procedures, a serious violation.

The company also was cited for not adequately securing the rebar “against dangerous displacement during an unloading process,” the second serious violation.

The general violation was issued in connection with the company failing to have a policy specifically addressing the safe unloading of rebar.

Second Fatality at Stadium Site

It was the second fatal accident at the football stadium construction site within four months. In June, 2013, Donald White, 63, was killed when he was struck in the head with a counterweight while working in an elevator shaft.

The company that employed White — Schindler Elevator, of San Leandro, California — was fined $54,000 by Cal-OSHA in connection with three serious violations as a result of the incident because it did not have adequate safeguards to secure the counterweight.

An initial investigation into that incident determined that the company was not responsible for the accident. But a later internal review by Cal-OSHA led to the three citations and the fine.

Gerdau Reinforcing Steel West is a subsidiary of Ameristeel, an entitiy affiliated with Gerdau SA, which is based in Porto Allegre, in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul.

Cal-OSHA is an agency of the state’s Department of Industrial Relations. It enforces safety and health regulations and provides consultations through on-site visits, educational publications and eTools, and through partnership programs and high-hazard employer programs.

The ’49ers new stadium is scheduled to be finished in time for the start of the 2014 NFL season. It will be the home of Super Bowl L in 2016.






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