BY RACHEL COOK Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Cal-OSHA offered a clearer picture of the incident that fatally injured a contractor's worker Tuesday morning at Pacific Gas & Electric Co.'s abandoned Kern Power Plant.
While the agency originally reported that Luis Roberto Minjarez, 51, of Los Angeles, was fatally injured in a boiler room, on Wednesday a Cal-OSHA spokesman said Minjarez had been making cuts in a large tank when he fell.
Minjarez was in an aerial lift making vertical cuts spaced 30 to 40 feet apart in a round, lidless tank as another employee made similar cuts on the opposite side, Cal-OSHA spokesman Peter Melton said.
The tank was a fuel oil storage tank, PG&E spokeswoman Katie Allen said.
The structure had no lateral support and the metal bent forward as Minjarez was making his second parallel cut, Milton said. The metal hit the basket and Minjarez fell from 50 feet.
Minjarez died at Kern Medical Center less than an hour later.
Allen said demolition work on the property has stopped, and at this point the focus is on giving the contractor and PG&E employees time and resources to grieve.
PG&E announced its plan to demolish and clean up the plant site at the corner of Coffee Road and Rosedale Highway in December and picked Cleveland Wrecking Co. as the project's contractor in March.
Half of the fuel tank appeared to have folded in on itself.
Cal-OSHA has six months to complete its inquiry, Melton said.
Initial reports seemed to indicate that Minjarez was not wearing a safety harness but on Wednesday Melton said Cal-OSHA thought the worker may have been wearing one. Melton said the agency is still investigating whether the harness was attached to the lift in some way.
Minjarez was a 14-year employee of Cleveland Wrecking Co., a company based in Covina. Jim Sheridan, the company's president, said Minjarez's death was the first fatal accident for the business. He did not return phone calls Wednesday.
OSHA records show two prior accidents for Cleveland Wrecking Co., both in California, since 2000, according to the federal agency's website. The first accident happened in October 2003 while workers were demolishing a plaster ceiling. A piece of plaster fell and knocked over rolling scaffold, which pinned a worker and fractured his left leg, the records said.
The second accident occurred in February 2004 when a cart and gas cylinder tipped and hit an employee, causing multiple fractures to his left leg, according to the website.