A Colorado-based construction company found responsible for unsafe conditions at a Bayfield worksite that contributed to the death of a 23-year-old man in September has been ordered to pay $14,075 in fines.
The fines were imposed last week by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) against SEMA Construction Inc. for safety violations that contributed to its worker’s death.
Calls to SEMA seeking comment were not immediately returned Wednesday.
Last fall, SEMA was hired as a contractor by the town of Bayfield to rebuild Bayfield Parkway over the Los Piños River, replacing bridges that date to the 1930s and were deemed functionally obsolete.
On Sept. 21, one of SEMA’s workers, Brian John Anthony Shaw, known as B.J., was ejected from a man lift, falling about 40 feet to the ground and landing on a survey stick that punctured his abdomen.
Reports at the time indicated Shaw was trying to fix the lift that had a wheel off the side of a dirt road. Witnesses on scene said Shaw was ejected when the lift shifted as he was trying to fix it.
Shaw, who was from Trinidad but recently moved to the area, was airlifted to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Lakewood in stable condition. However, a staph infection caused his condition to worsen, and Shaw died two days later.
A few days after the incident, OSHA traveled to Bayfield to investigate.
In its findings, OSHA said SEMA did not ensure employees operating an aerial lift used a body belt or body harness with a lanyard attached to the basket.
“An employee was exposed to falls of up to 40 feet while conducting activities to free a ... lift that had gotten stuck on soft ground,” the report said. “The employee’s full body harness was not attached to the boom or basket allowing him to be ejected and suffer fatal injuries.”
Additionally, OSHA said SEMA did not have each employee who worked on scaffold trained by a qualified person.
“At least two employees were exposed to hazards, including but not limited to fall hazards, in that they were directed to operate ... lifts prior to providing training on the hazards associated,” the report said.
As a result, OSHA issued two citations that amounted to $14,075.
SEMA must either request a conference hearing on the citations or file an outright objection. It was unclear Wednesday what the company planned to do.
Shaw had been working with SEMA for about three months, according to previous reports. Shaw’s stepmother told The Durango Herald he grew up in Trinidad and studied auto-diesel mechanics at WyoTech.