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Company fined for fall death of construction worker

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 4:18 p.m. HST, Feb 13, 2014

A Kalihi construction company has been fined $63,250 for failing to provide safeguards that resulted in the death of a 39-year-old worker who fell 50 feet from a Punchbowl apartment building last year.

The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations' Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Division said it issued citations to Color Dynamics, Inc. for exposing workers to falls and electrical hazards.

Construction worker Louis Martin, of Wahiawa, fell Sept. 11, 2013 while working on the roof at the Embassy House. He was taken to the hospital where he died.

Color Dynamics was cited for two serious violations for deficiencies in the company safety program, four serious violations for failing to provide adequate fall protection to employees working in elevated locations, two serious violations for failing to give and document adequate fall protection training, and one serious violation for failing to ground electrical power cords, the Labor Department said. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known about.

The state said the company did not provide guardrails or nets and did not enforce the use of or provide personal fall arrest systems in good condition in all elevated work locations.

In addition, an other-than-serious citation was issued because Color Dynamics did not provide water for its employees on the job site, the state labor department said. Other-than-serious violations are those in which injuries are expected to be treatable by first aid measures.

Color Dynamics, Inc. will have an opportunity to contest the citations.

David Onerheim, Color Dynamics president, said his company plans to contest the state's allegations, saying the accusations are "false and defamatory."

Onerheim said the employee who died five months ago was working in area he was not supposed to be in.

"The former employee inexplicably fell to his death from an area not controlled by the company, where he was not supposed to be working or walking, after receiving extensive training to carefully avoid the very hazard involved."

He also said the state ignored the company's ongoing accident prevention and investigation procedures.

The general contracting company's fall protection policy includes training at Honolulu Community College, Onerheim said.

He said the allegations concerning on the conditions of rope and electrical cords and requiring employees to carry water bottles rather than use available restroom and faucets were groundless.

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