Contractor Scrutinized After Twin Peaks Tunnel Worker's Death
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- San Francisco Supervisor Norman Yee is planning to hold a hearing next month to investigate how city contractors are chosen following the death of a construction worker inside the Twin Peaks Tunnel.
Patrick Ricketts died on Friday night after a falling steal beam struck him around 4:30 p.m. near the West Portal end of the tunnel, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. He died at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.
Ricketts, 51, was a resident of Colusa County and worked for Oakland-based Shimmick Construction.
"I want to share my deepest condolences to Patrick Ricketts' family, friend and colleagues," Yee said in a statement.
"My office was in communication with SFMTA staff since the incident occurred, but it did not surface until later that the Oakland-based subcontractor, Shimmick Construction, had a history of workplace and safety violations, including one involving another fatality," Yee said.
According to the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Shimmick Construction has a history of violations, including a November 2016 incident in which a worker operating a forklift died after losing control and going into a trench.
Yee added, "I am deeply concerned about the history of workplace and safety violations committed by this contractor. In documents obtained by the media, Shimmick checked "No" when asked "In the past ten years, has the potential bidder (or if a joint venture partnership, has any member of the partnership) been cited for any serious and willful safety violations by Cal-OSHA?"
San Francisco transit officials, who oversaw the bid for contracts for the work, have said that Shimmick Construction met the requirements to pre-qualify for the bid.
Yee said, "As a city, we must take every effort to fully vet our contractors and ensure we are only contracting with companies that are forthright about their safety record and put the safety of workers at the forefront.
"I look forward to working with SFMTA and other city agencies to evaluate how we vet and select our contractors for city projects. I urge the SFMTA and all other city agencies to closely monitor this and all of our city-funded projects to ensure safety and compliance on all of our sites."
The 100-year-old Twin Peaks Tunnel, which carries San Francisco Municipal Railway's K, L and M lines between the West Portal and Castro stations, has been undergoing major rehabilitation work such as replacing and adding tracks, repairing tunnel walls and ceilings and replacing the drainage system.
The work started in June and is expected to be finished by late August, according to the SFMTA.
On Saturday, transit officials announced that both Cal OSHA and the San Francisco police department cleared the project for work to resume.
"We feel confident that the contractor, under the SFMTA's oversight, has done everything possible to ensure construction can proceed safely," SFMTA's Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin said in a statement at the time.
Grief counseling has been made available to all those working at the site, transit officials said.
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