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Plumbing firm investigated for airport safety scare

An unsafe workplace may place the public at risk in addition to workers. In one case, California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health is investigating a plumbing firm for an incident at the San Francisco International Airport in Dec. that impacted two workers and revealed risks of workplace accidents.

Two employees were working in underground tunnels beneath a catering business at the airport. They were apparently overwhelmed by a gas-powered concrete cutter they were using. An airport spokesperson said that the fumes from the cutter overcame them in the tunnel's small confines.

One worker left the tunnel. The other worker, however, wandered away from the work site into a maze of tunnels. A two-hour search-and-rescue operation had to be conducted to locate him. Rescuers found him conscious and breathing but he was taken to a hospital as a precaution. The air in the tunnel was determined to be breathable during the search.

There was a brief scare at the airport. However, the incident did not delay any flights.

Cal/OSHA will begin interviewing workers of the plumbing contractor and check its safety records. An agency spokesperson said it would ascertain the cause of the incident and review the contractor's safety protocols for deficiencies. Cal/OSHA will evaluate the contractor's workplace safety training procedures and inspect its equipment. workers will be interviewed to determine whether workplace safety regulations are being complied with.

This is apparently Cal/OSHA's first inspection of this plumbing contractor. It has six months to determine whether citations should be issued. Companies may face fines that range from a few hundred dollars for minor violations up to $25,000 for serious safety failures that may cause serious injuries.

Victims of workplace injuries should seek immediate legal representation. Lawyers my help assure that their rights to workers' compensation or other legal relief is pursued.

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