Cal/OSHA: Brothers deaths were totally preventable

Cal/OSHA: Brothers deaths were totally preventable
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Appearing before the Kern County Board of Supervisors Tuesday at its request, California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Chief Ellen Widess gave an update on an investigation into the death of two brothers killed at Community Recycling & Resource Recovery Inc. in Lamont.

She said the deaths should never have happened.

"This kind of confined-space death is totally preventable," said Widess.

Supervisors had been pressing Cal/OSHA for answers in its investigation that happened Oct.12. The state agency said 16-year-old Armando Ramirez was cleaning out a drainage tunnel. He was overcome with fumes from hydrogen sulfide. His 22-year-old brother Eladio tried to rescue him, but he too was overcome by the fumes and died.

Supervisors asked Widess if any more workers at the site faced immediate dangers. Widess said there were none, but Cal/OSHA did close access to the drainage tunnel where the Ramirez brothers were killed.

Supervisor Zack Scrivener said the county has information that the company has compiled a number of violations but would not say what those violations were. Scrivener called on the board to hold a public hearing on whether to suspend or revoke the company's operating permit.