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
"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.