California state regulators continue to investigate a fatal workplace accident from January 28 in Milpitas, California, according to sources. 39-year-old carpenter Raul Zapata was buried alive at the site when a hillside collapsed, according to the Santa Clara County Coroner. Zapata was working at the site, which is for a private residence.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, three days before the accident the city had ordered the contractor to pause the project because of heavy rainfall and an absence of shoring in the foundation hole, which made the site unsafe. U.S.-Sino Investment, the contractor based in Fremont, did not comply with the city’s orders.
The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched an investigation through its regional office. According to a spokesperson for OSHA’s California office, Zapata was working in a 12-foot-deep ditch when it caved in. Rescuers were unable to even retrieve his body until the following Monday due to the conditions.
It is shocking to see a contractor blatantly disobey city orders like this, especially when it put a worker’s safety in jeopardy. The city ordered the pause for a reason, and the contractor chose to blatantly ignore the order, resulting in the wrongful death of Zapata. There were seven other workers at the site at the time as well. The city delivered the stop-work order by hand to the on-site construction manager.
“Stop work notice means you have to stop the work and don’t do any construction,” says Keyvan Irannejad, Milpitas building inspector. “Apparently, they ignored that stop work notice.”
Bonnici Law Group, APC—San Diego wrongful death attorney.