Contractor Negligence Leads to Worker’s Death

construction site death fines

Authorities are conducting an investigation into U.S. Sino Investments, Inc. after an accident at  814 Calaveras Ridge Dr. resulted in the death of Raul Zapata, 39, a construction worker employed by the company. Zapata was working near a 12-foot retaining wall when it collapsed, crushing and killing him instantly. Rescue workers were unable to recover the body until seven days later.

The company is under fire for working without workers’ compensation insurance, without the proper permits, and despite being ordered by a building inspector to stop work on the site three days before the deadly accident.

According to Keyvan Irannejad, the city’s chief building official, a building inspector issued a stop work notice on the site Jan. 25 after seeing moist dirt in the 12-foot high retaining wall.

Irannejad said workers with Fremont-based U.S. Sino Investments, Inc. were building a new 5,800 square-foot home inside the gated community.

Construction was in the early stages, and a 12-foot cut into the hillside was made for the foundation.

The stop work order required a soil engineer review to determine any require action and provide recommendations for shoring, according to Irannejad.

Despite the stop work notice, workers continued to work in the trench.

“The stop work order was hand delivered to the project manager on the site Wednesday,” Irannejad said. “But on Saturday there were seven or eight people at the site working again.”

He added he did not know why U.S. Sino employees continued to work on the site after the stop work order had been issued, and said he was still investigating that detail Tuesday morning. 31 Jan 2011, Mercury News

The State License Board suspended the contractor’s license because the company “failed to comply with state workers’ compensation insurance laws.” U.S. Sino Investments Inc. filed paperwork in 2008 that stated the company had no employees. It is not clear if authorities have been able to interview the owner, Richard Liu.

You can read more details here, here, and here.