9 On Your Side Wants to Know
Who's in charge of construction site safety at Pantano Wash?
Two accidents, including a fatal, have raised questions over worker safety
Reporter: Claire Doan
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) – It appears to be business as usual for works at the Pantano Wash, one day after a dump truck tipped over and just ten days after a man died at the same construction site in a rollover.
As KGUN9 News reported, both incidents have raised questions about the safety for truck drivers on this project. 9 On Your Side wants to know: Who’s in charge of safety – and stepping in, when necessary?
In the first accident on March 24, 44-year-old Danny Murphy lost his life during a rollover. In the second one Monday, another dump truck tipped over, although nobody was hurt.
KGUN9 News has finally been able to confirm the agency in charge of the investigation: the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) – the state agency of OSHA. Contracts very for different construct projects, but Assistant Director Williams Wright said general contractors are usually responsible for safety.
“If there are violations, who makes sure the company either pays a fine or discontinues that kind of practice,” reporter Claire Doan asked.
“ADOSH does … When a citation is issued, then the company is required to basically fix the issue. If there’s a penalty invoked, they would have to pay the penalty,” Williams responded.
Williams said it will take about 5 months for ADOSH to investigate the Murphy case before sending it to the Industrial Commission of Arizona for review – and a notice sent to the employer.
Stoping construction at a site requires that there’s “imminent danger” and a court order, neither of which has occurred in this case, Williams added. Williams said companies comply with ADOSH 99% of the time.
Doug Zanes of Zanes Law firm isn’t involved in this case, but specializes in construction accidents. He said construction companies often prioritize the bottom line over safety, so self-policing isn’t always effective and authorities get involved often when it’s too late.
“I think when a regulatory agency comes in, it’s after the fact. They’re not brought into something early to fix it and prevent something bad from happening,” Zanes said. He added companies and cities don’t always hire the best or safest contractor for the job; rather, they’re looking at who’s going to finish the project for the lowest price.
If employees are concerned about their work conditions, they can file a complaint with OSHA and request an inspection. And names can be kept confidential if employees are afraid of retaliation.