Preventable tragedy: US Department of Labor investigation of zip-line worker’s fatal fall finds workplace safety failures
SAN DIEGO – A federal workplace safety investigation found that a 34-year-old worker’s fatal fall might have been prevented had the operator of a Pauma Valley zip-line attraction implemented required safety measures.
A U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation of the Oct. 30, 2021, incident determined that, after grabbing a zip-line harness on a customer to steady them as they landed on the tower platform, the worker and the customer were both pulled off the zip-line tower. The worker let go of the harness and fell about 50 feet to the valley floor.
Inspectors found La Jolla Zip Zoom Ziplines failed to install a guardrail, safety net or personal fall arrest system. The company also did not train employees on fall hazards and how to recognize them, as required. Additionally, OSHA determined that the company failed to assess the workplace to determine the presence of hazards and did not report a work-related hospitalization within 24 hours.
OSHA cited the company for four serious safety violations and proposed $24,861 in penalties.
“La Jolla Zip Zoom Ziplines failed to meet their obligation to protect their employees,” OSHA Area Director Derek Engard in San Diego. “If they had simply provided the proper protective equipment, this senseless tragedy could have been prevented.”
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.