Construction Site Death Leads to Jail Time for Owner

construction site death fines

construction site death fines

The owner of a California construction company and one of his project managers have been sentenced to time in prison for the “preventable death” of one of their employees in January 2012.

Richard Liu, CEO, and Dan Luo, Project Manager, were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to two years in prison after the construction site death of Raul Zapata. They are the first construction executives to be convicted in a California workplace death since 1982. This may be due to the severity of negligence found by a Cal/OSHA investigation.

Zapata, 36, was a day laborer for U.S. Sino Investment working on the company’s Milpitas residential construction site. He was laying the concrete foundation for a retaining wall when the excavation fell and killed him instantly. Cal/OSHA’s investigation found several jobsite problems:

  1. Neither Zapata nor his fellow workers were wearing any protective headgear at the time of the incident.
  2. The excavation wall had not been constructed according to state law.
  3. There was “no competent person for excavation on the jobsite to ensure that the wall was installed according to Cal/OSHA rules.”
  4. U.S. Sino Investment had no workers’ compensation at the time of the incident.
  5. The Milpitas building inspector put the site under a stop-work notice three days before the incident because the excavation wall had not been constructed correctly.

The company was issued six citations for the construction site death – five of which were classified as serious – and fined $168,175. Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations had this to say on the matter: “California employers must provide workers with the necessary protection and training so they can do their jobs safely. When our investigations uncover negligent behavior by employers, we exercise our full jurisdiction to protect workers – including referrals to district attorneys for prosecution.”

If you have been injured or lost a loved one due to negligence and are in need of a personal injury lawyer in southern California, please contact the Booth & Koskoff office nearest you for a free personal injury case evaluation.

Information Source: Construction Dive, 5 Aug 2015.