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Bay Bridge repair team falsified worker injury reports, says state (9/25)

September 25, 2006
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A investigation in California by Cal-OSHA and the Oakland Tribune revealed that the contractor building the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge’s $1 billion replacement segment concealed worker injuries by not recording them when they occurred.

Workers, foremen and safety officers reported that employees for Kiewit Pacific/FCI Constructors/Manson Construction (KFM) were systematically encouraged to hide injuries, and were routinely fired when their injuries were too severe to hide. The state investigation has revolved around injury logs and medical records reported to Cal-OSHA.

Last June, Cal-OSHA fined the company a total of $5,790 for the 17 violations, which the company has characterized as a dispute over recordkeeping. KFM has appealed the citations with the Cal-OSHA appeals board.

The state has been criticized for its KFM decision over what activists have perceived as lax enforcement. “KFM’s creative accounting with worker injuries has been enabled by Cal/OSHA’s schizophrenic jumping between worker protector and employer defender,” said labor advocate Jordan Barab, who maintains the worker safety-themed blog, Confined Space. “Normally, federal OSHA would have jurisdiction over the parts of the job that were done on floating platforms. Federal OSHA would not give up its jurisdiction on work done on barges in the bay until Cal/OSHA agreed to a ‘compliance assistance partnership’ with KFM ... but a written partnership agreement, with explicit roles and rights for workers and their unions, was never formalized with KFM.”

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