City fined $21,600 for maintenance worker’s death

David Vogel died March 14 while performing routine street work

A state safety agency has fined the city of Gilroy $21,600 for
the March 14 death of maintenance worker David Vogel, according to
a city press release.
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A state safety agency has fined the city of Gilroy $21,600 for the March 14 death of maintenance worker David Vogel, according to a city press release.

The city announced Tuesday it will appeal the citations from the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), which allege the city “did not effectively implement its written policy regarding identifying hazards and evaluating procedures associated with maintenance employees performing work in streets in moving traffic.”

An additional citation states the city “failed to ensure traffic controls as required by the California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) were used by employees performing work on a public street.”

Vogel, 40, was killed when he was struck by a vehicle while replacing a manhole cover in the middle of Farrell Avenue between Severance Street and Monterey Road in Gilroy. He and another employee were marking utility lines in the roadway, according to the city.

The Gilroy Police Department’s Major Accident Investigation Team determined the cause of the accident was an inattentive driver who was not watching the road when his vehicle struck Vogel, according to the press release. GPD Sgt. Chad Gallacinao said Wednesday morning the driver would not be charged by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.

When reached Wednesday morning via telephone, Deputy District Attorney Steve Lowney said he would wait to speak with Vogel’s family before commenting on the incident.

“All indications are this accident was the result of an unexpected series of events,” City Administrator Tom Haglund said in the press release. “We are reminded daily of the loss of David.”

Haglund added that, “while we respect Cal/OSHA’s role in investigating worker related accidents, we respectfully disagree with the issuance of these citations and we were surprised by the findings. Our safety programs are strong, active and modeled on state policies and the City and its employees take worker and public safety very seriously.”

The citation was received Aug. 1, and the city has 15 days to either appeal or pay the $21,600 fine to Cal/OSHA.

While on the job, Vogel and co-worker Tom Gotterba followed a “customary city practice” of saying the word “car” back and forth whenever a vehicle approached. The morning Vogel was killed, he and his co-worker were following this practice, according to the report compiled by Fremont firm Du-All, LLC released June 9.

The method did not require placing traffic cones or signs where they were working because the job was not considered long-term and the road was “infrequently traveled,” according to the report. The work was also timed to avoid traffic.

Vogel was replacing a manhole cover at about 11 a.m. in the middle of the street near an intersection with Severance Street when the driver of the van struck and killed him.

Todd Barreras, a city operations supervisor manager who assigned the work to Vogel and Gotterba that morning, said he didn’t know either worker would be required to enter the street and open a manhole cover, according to the report.

Moments before the accident, another vehicle approached Vogel’s work area, slowed and “hugged the gutter” as it passed him, according to the report. Gotterba then noticed the van approaching and called “car,” to which Vogel responded, “car.”

Gotterba believed Vogel saw the van approaching, according to the report. Vogel then entered the street, opened and looked inside the manhole and signaled to Gotterba where he should make markings in the street.

Neither saw the van in time as it struck Vogel, the report states.

Check back for updates to this story.

City of Gilroy CAL/OSHA citationvar docstoc_docid=”88220039″;var docstoc_title=”City of Gilroy CAL/OSHA citation”;var docstoc_urltitle=”City of Gilroy CAL/OSHA citation”;

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