Muni tunnel death: Breed orders better ‘checks and balances’ after company’s safety record revealed

After the San Francisco Examiner uncovered the checkered safety record of a company whose worker died in the Twin Peaks Tunnel, Mayor London Breed on Thursday ordered transit officials to revise policies around vetting contractors.

The mayor told Ed Reiskin, director of transportation, to review and revise the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s current policy after the Examiner reported the agency did not double check the company’s safety record before awarding a nearly $41 million contract earlier this year.

“When it comes to awarding multi-million dollar contracts that impact the safety of our residents, there needs to be a better system of checks and balances,” Breed said in a statement.

A review of public records revealed that the Oakland-based Shimmick Construction had been cited for nearly 50 safety violations over the past decade, including citations for a forklift accident from November 2016 in which a worker was crushed to death in Moorpark, Ca.

SEE RELATED: Contractor in SF Muni tunnel death had record of safety violations

The violations came to light after Patrick Ricketts, a 51-year-old signal technician for Shimmick Construction, died Friday when a temporary steel beam fell and pinned him during the seismic retrofit of the tunnel.

The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the company for three serious and willful safety violations since 2008.

Shimmick Construction appealed all three violations, but the Cal/OSHA Appeals Board affirmed the decisions as serious and willful. Both cases are currently under litigation in Sacramento Superior Court.

When the SFMTA asked Shimmick Construction and its business partner last November whether it had been cited for a serious and willful violation in the last decade, the company responded “no.”

The SFMTA relied on the company to accurately represent its past.

A Shimmick Construction spokesperson previously said that the answer “is accurate.”

But if the answer is accurate, then the SFMTA may not be asking the right question, according to Jen Low, an aide to Supervisor Norman Yee.

SEE RELATED: Checkered past of contractor in SF Muni tunnel death raises ‘red flag’

Yee on Wednesday called for a hearing at the Board of Supervisors to investigate whether the SFMTA properly vetted the company in response to reports in the Examiner and NBC Bay Area.

“Rather than rely on information from potential contractors, we are taking steps now to change the policy and ensure that we verify details in the pre-bid documents going forward,” SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said.

A “clerical error” had initially led to confusion over whether the Cal/OSHA Appeals Board had affirmed two of the three serious and willful citations, but a Cal/OSHA spokesperson said Thursday the board had.

The citations were erroneously listed as serious in a summary table included in the decision letter.

Regardless, all three are being litigated.

Ricketts left behind a wife in Williams, Ca., and two adult stepchildren. His funeral is scheduled for next week.

SEE RELATED: Technician killed by beam in Twin Peaks Tunnel was working with stepson

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

This story has been updated to include additional information.

Michael Barba

Recent Posts

SF firefighters extinguish 1-alarm blaze at building near Interstate 280

A one-alarm fire broke out early Monday morning at a commercial structure in the area below U.S. Interstate 280 in…

6 mins ago

Crazy good song and dance in Bay Area Musicals’ ‘Crazy For You’

It’s hard to resist the sequin-studded, toe-tapping cast of Bay Area Musicals’ “Crazy For You.” The entertaining show, which opened…

52 mins ago

Deadly Butte County wildfire grows to 113,000 acres as SF remains smoky

The deadly Butte County wildfire continued to scorch land overnight after devastating towns over the weekend and claiming 29 lives…

56 mins ago

SFPD efforts to fight opioid epidemic in question as police net drug arrests

Police in San Francisco have seized more than 125 pounds of narcotics and $500,000 in drug money so far this…

10 hours ago

Getting the most out of parent-teacher conferences

If you’re a parent, you have more than a full time job. You juggle work and kids’ schedules. You try…

10 hours ago

Rams lose 32-29 versus San Mateo in heartbreaker

With a playoff trip at stake, City College of San Francisco traveled to play arch-rival College of San Mateo on…

16 hours ago