OSHA has cited a California general contractor and subcontractor for safety violations related to a fatal wall collapse and has fined the companies a total of $86,975, according to NBC San Diego.
Fernando Martinez, a 51-year-old employee of subcontractor Southland Paving, was digging a trench on the site of a new car dealership when a 5,000-pound to 6,000-pound concrete-block wall adjacent to the trench collapsed and killed Martinez. OSHA found that contractor Kunzik & Sara Construction did not properly stabilize the wall and fined the company $41,150.
Southland is not part of a civil suit filed by the family of Martinez. However, OSHA fined the company $45,825 for failing to remove its employees from the area next to the wall, which had been deemed an "imminent hazard," before it collapsed, along with other violations.
Civil suits are commonplace when there is reason to believe negligence on the construction site caused death or injury. However, prosecutors are increasingly looking to criminal charges to hold contractors accountable when their actions — or lack thereof — related to such incidents are deemed to be particularly egregious.
In March, Brooklyn, NY, prosecutors filed charges of manslaughter and criminal negligence against a building owner who they alleged did not provide the necessary, and requested, materials needed to stabilize a wall next to a construction site. The wall eventually collapsed, killing 18-year-old construction worker Fernando Vanegaz.
Prosecutors claimed that the building owner, Michael Weiss, used someone else's license to obtain city approvals for the project and did not follow the work plans he filed with the city. Weiss pleaded not guilty and faces 15 years in prison if convicted.
Those allegations, which took place in Brooklyn, were out of reach of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance's office, which formed the Construction Fraud Task Force in 2015, a few months after 22-year-old construction worker Carlos Moncayo died in a job-site trench collapse.
The general contractor on the project, Harco Construction, was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter and was assessed a $10,000 fine. Moncayo's direct employer, subcontractor Sky Materials Corporation, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and must also pay $10,000, as well as $100,000 to OSHA.
The task force investigates incidents of construction fraud and safety violations.