Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Go Native fined for deadly, less than responsible crash
Go Native is a company hired by Pacifica to maintain certain weed abatement services along our streams and back hills. Mistakes happen, but how much is 1 life and 6 injuries worth?
Half Moon Bay Review/Mark Hoack, 1/18/12. "A Montara landscaping company faces more than $21,000 in work-safety fines following a deadly roll-over crash last year at the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve. One rider died and six were injured when a Go Native truck tumbled down a steep hillside while heading along a narrow ranch trail.
The seven men - three of whom are Coastside residents - were part of a contract work crew hired to spray herbicides at a remote section of Russian Ridge. Five of the men had no seatbelts, and most of them were reportedly riding while standing up in the truck bed. The accident occurred when the truck was navigating a narrow section of dirt road and one of the wheels slipped off the road. The vehicle toppled 300 feet down the hill, ejecting the men riding in the back. In November, an investigator from the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration sent a letter informing Go Native that it faced safety violations. The violations included illegally allowing workers to stand up in the back of the truck. The vehicle also should have been equipped with some kind of guardrail if it was transporting people, said Patricia Ortiz, a Cal OSHA spokeswoman.
"The employer knew of the dangers that someone could be thrown from the truck and suffer physical harm or death," she said. "The supervisor was driving the truck at the time of the accident. He was in charge of making sure everyone was safely secured." The four violations imposed by Cal OSHA, two of which were labeled "serious," total $21,800 in penalties, which would go to the state treasury. The fines were due last month, but the company instead hired an employment law attorney to appeal the case.
"This company takes this very seriously and we want to make sure we have a thorough understanding before they move forward," said Go Native attorney Lisa Prince. The company was conducting its own investigation of the accident, she said, declining to provide more details. Go Native managers declined to comment on the violations.
The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, the public agency in charge of Russian Ridge, also received a warning from state inspectors following the crash. Investigators warned the open-space district it could face future fines if it didn't provide medical equipment or radios for its remote workers. The district was otherwise cleared of any responsibility for the crash. "District staff are deeply saddened by this incident," responded MROSD spokeswoman Leigh Ann Gessner. "We are confident that district staff acted appropriately at all times."
References. Go Native, a habitat restoration company, and Russian Ridge Open Space Reserve.
Posted by Kathy Meeh