Region 9 News Release: 07-1084-SAN (SF- 87)
July 19, 2007
Contact: Roger Gayman
Phone: (415) 625-2631
Notice issued to U.S. Forest Service cites serious violations during October 2006 wildfire
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued its findings to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service following the investigation of last fall's Esperanza fire in the Banning, Calif., community of Twin Pines. Five forest service firefighters died at the site on October 26, 2006.
OSHA issued a Notice of Unsafe or Unhealthful Working Conditions to the forest service for alleged serious violations of safety standards. The service failed to comply with three of 10 "standard fire orders" and six of 18 "watch out situations" listed in the Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations.
"OSHA is already working with the U.S. Forest Service to ensure that the utmost care is taken to prevent future loss of life," said Frank Strasheim, the agency's regional administrator in San Francisco. "We have already entered another fire season, and we are working together to prevent such tragedies from occurring again."
OSHA found the violations during its fatality investigation at the Esperanza fire site. The forest service may meet informally with OSHA to discuss the violation notices, including methods of correction and length of abatement periods.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act defines a serious violation as one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
U.S. Labor Department releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call (202) 693-7765 or TTY (202) 693-7755. The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.