Cal/OSHA Cites Equipment Company, Refers Contractor for Prosecution in Confined Space Deaths

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health cited Meeder Equipment Co. of Rancho Cucamonga and referred D&D Construction Specialties Inc. of Sun Valley for criminal prosecution in two separate cases of workers’ deaths related to confined spaces.

Meeder and its successors were cited a combined $272,250 for serious safety violations following a confined space death of a worker who suffocated in a 10,000-gallon propane gas tank.

In a separate case, D&D faced criminal prosecution for the 2016 death of a worker who lost consciousness and fell 15 feet while cleaning a 50-foot-deep drainage sump. Cal/OSHA’s Enforcement branch also issued citations to D&D, including a serious accident-related citation for failure to conduct a hazard inspection before this work was performed.

On Aug. 18, 2022, a mechanic employed by Meeder reportedly entered a tank to spray a valve inside. He was later found unresponsive inside the confined space. Meeder employees attempted to rescue him, but were unsuccessful. The Rancho Cucamonga Fire Department rescued the employee and transported him to a nearby hospital where he died.

Meeder’s violations include one categorized as willful and serious after Cal/OSHA determined the employer failed to follow confined space requirements, did not provide employees with safety training or respiratory equipment and did not have an emergency rescue plan. A willful violation is cited when evidence shows the employer either knowingly violated the law or took no reasonable steps to address a known hazard.

In a separate and unrelated investigation, Cal/OSHA’s Bureau of Investigations referred for criminal prosecution to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office a worker’s 2016 confined-space death.

The victim in the D&D case was employed by a licensed general contractor as a laborer and was assigned to clean water, muck and other debris from the bottom of a 50-foot-deep drainage sump. The victim reportedly stood on a metal bucket attached to a small crane that lowered him into the shaft opening. After 15 to 20 feet, he became unresponsive and fell head-first to the bottom of the shaft. The victim drowned.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office in 2019 filed a felony criminal complaint against D&D. Daniel T. Moore, the president of D&D, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and two counts of willful violation of an occupational safety or health standard. Marty K. Hamilton, the superintendent of D&D, who is now deceased, was charged with violating two counts of the Labor Code. In November 2022, Moore was convicted of a felony for violating the Labor Code and was ordered to pay a $100,000 fine, which included $22,000 to the victim’s family, $15,000 to BOI, one year of formal probation, and completion of OSHA training.

Workers’ Compensation

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