US Department of Labor finds Guam Shipyards failed to follow federal safety standards after investigation into rigger’s November 2022 death
PITI, GUAM ‒ A federal inspection found that a ship repair company might have prevented the death of a rigger at the Port of Guam in November 2022 had they followed legally required safety standards for operating cranes.
Inspectors with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration learned the rigger was one of 12 workers employed by Guam Industrial Services Inc. – operating as Guam Shipyard – to demolish a gantry crane at the time of the incident. They determined the company was using a barge-mounted crane to lower one leg of a 100-foot-high gantry crane as two welders and the rigger waited on an elevated platform to remove it. Once removed, the part would be cut up and scrapped.
As welders on the platform cut the crane leg’s base, its full weight caused the barge crane’s boom to bend, which snapped its cable and allowed the load to swing and fatally strike the rigger.
Inspectors learned that, on the morning of the incident, workers raised concerns that the load was too heavy for the crane and suggested cutting the load into pieces. Company management instructed employees to remove the leg in one piece.
“Guam Shipyard could have prevented this crane failure and its tragic outcome by ensuring effective and necessary training, procedures and work practices were provided and followed,” said OSHA Area Director Roger Forstner in Honolulu. “The company’s leadership was made aware of their crew’s safety concerns, yet failed to safeguard its employees as the law requires.”
Specifically, OSHA found that Guam Shipyard:
- Failed to determine the weight of the load being lifted by the crane.
- Proceeded with a lift that exceeded the rated capacity of the crane.
- Failed to ensure that each crane operator was trained, certified/licensed and evaluated.
OSHA has proposed $291,312 in penalties, an amount set by federal statutes, and cited the company for two willful violations and one serious violation. Based in Santa Rita, Guam, Guam Industrial Services Inc. is a local, independent company that provides ship repair services including maintenance, support, scheduled overhaul, emergency repair and industrial services.
Following the November incident, OSHA launched a crane safety initiative in Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands to enhance safety measures and protect workers against crane hazards. Compliance officers conducted inspections at ports, construction sites and other locations where cranes are in use, as well as outreach activities, on-site consultations and promoted partnerships and alliances to improve compliance and prevent injuries and fatalities.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the 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.