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Region 9 News Release: USDL-13
Wednesday, February 10, 1999
Tino Serrano, (415) 975-4742
OSHA FINES DIVING COMPANY $75,000 FOLLOWING DEATH IN GALLEON RECOVERY
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fined a deep sea diving company $75,000 following the death of an employee working off the coast of Guam.
Walter Canfield, an employee of Florida-based Deep Sea Technologies, died August 11, 1998 from decompression sickness while working on a project to salvage artifacts from a Manila galleon which sank off the coast of Guam in 1690.
Following a six month investigation, OSHA cited Deep Sea Technologies, a subcontractor of The Pilar Project Ltd., for willful violations which led to the death, including failure to use two-way voice communication between a mixed-gas diver and surface crew; having no decompression chamber ready for use at the dive site; requiring employees using SCUBA equipment to dive deeper than 130 feet in sea water; exceeding the allowable service pressure on the compressed gas cylinders used by SCUBA divers, and lack of tables at the dive site which outline safe diving depths and durations. The violations are covered under OSHA's Commercial Diving Operations regulations.
The company was also cited for one less-than-serious violation for failing to notify OSHA of the fatality within eight hours.
"OSHA will not tolerate this type of situation," said Leonard Limtiaco, enforcement director for OSHA in the western states. "This fatality could have been prevented. The employer knew they were diving too deep for the equipment they used, that they had no two-way communication, and that the tanks were over pressurized, and yet they continued to put the divers at risk, resulting in this tragic consequence." Limtiaco said that a diver on The Pilar Project died in 1994, and another diver required emergency evacuation in 1993.
OSHA issues a willful violation only in cases when an employer knew that a condition constituted a violation or was aware that a hazardous condition existed and made no reasonable effort to correct it.
The company has 15 working days from the date of the notice to contest the citations.
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