OSHA Fined North Charleston Shipyard $187,917 After Death

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The U.S. Department of Labor has criticized a North Charleston shipyard for failing to prioritize safety, leading to multiple worker deaths, despite its declared commitment on the company’s website. The most recent fatality involved Hugo Antonio, 41, who died after falling nearly 20 feet at Detyens shipyard while working on the U.S. Naval Ship 1st Lt. Jack Lummus in November 2023. This incident marks the fifth death at the shipyard in the last five years.

Antonio’s fall occurred through several decks into a former fuel tank, resulting in a fatal head injury, according to a North Charleston Police Department report. Efforts to rescue him were hampered as workers could not access the exhaust tube where he fell, leading to desperate calls to 911.

Following an investigation into Antonio’s death, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued four safety violations against the shipyard. These included inadequate lighting, failure to ensure the use of hard hats, and the absence of guardrails on elevated platforms, which have been a noted hazard in four of the five worker death cases OSHA has investigated.

“For the fourth time in five years, Detyens Shipyards failed in its primary responsibility to keep its employees safe, and now another worker’s family, friends and co-workers are left to grieve a terrible and needless loss,”  said OSHA Area Office Director Kim Morton in a press release. “Since 2014, OSHA has identified dozens of serious violations that are clearly jeopardizing their employees’ lives, and this must end.”

The Department of Labor has accused the shipyard of “willfully exposing” workers to dangers by not installing guardrails and leaving floor panels open, posing fall risks. Additionally, workers were often not equipped with mandatory safety gear such as harnesses.

These latest infractions contribute to a total of 33 serious violations identified by OSHA since 2014, culminating in fines totaling $187,917 against the shipyard.

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