Company fined for scaffold worker's death at Tivoli Village - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU


Company fined for scaffold worker's death at Tivoli Village

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A scaffold is left mangled after a collapse at Tivoli Village on August 22, 2016. (FOX5) A scaffold is left mangled after a collapse at Tivoli Village on August 22, 2016. (FOX5)

Performance Builders, Inc. will be fined for its role in the death of an employee working on a job site at Tivoli Village last August, OSHA ruled.

Ricardo Bautista, 30, was on top of a scaffold with two other men when it crumbled. Bautista fell 50 to 60 feet and died. The other two men jumped off in time.

OSHA documents indicate that the work site was unsafe because the scaffold was not being held together properly by coupling pins. Heavy winds and forklift activity would have necessitated the use of the pins, according to OSHA regulations, and the scaffold manufacturer's guidelines. Instead, investigators found more than 50 locations where the scaffold was not connected properly.

Investigators also found an unsecured brace that was cut and modified. Both violations are considered "serious" and carry a penalty of $3,500.

Performance Builders will also be fined $550 for failing to sign Bautista's safety paperwork.

FOX5 has investigated Performance Builders and the OSHA system for months. 

Performance Builders has been the subject of 13 OSHA investigations in the past three years. A large portion of those investigations had to do with suspected problems involving their scaffolding.


"I don't think that there's much of a question that they screwed up," said Justin Wilson, an attorney who specializes in cases like this. "Their job is to inspect it, and they're not catching things... Scaffolding is one of the most dangerous."

Despite the 13 investigations, this case at Tivoli Village is the first in which Performance Builders' actions led to the death of an employee.

Randy Sorensen, listed as the general manager for Performance Builders, has repeatedly declined FOX5's request for an interview, but he indicated that he will be challenging the fines.

"We grieve for the family, but we didn't do anything wrong?" scoffed Jones. "They're 9 times out of 10, more likely than not, going to come to a settlement... It's not even going to be $7,500."

OSHA said Sorensen was at the work site in the days leading up to the collapse, including the day of it. Investigators stated he should have been capable of noticing the problems before anyone died.

"He could have identified the cut brace that was on ground level and in plain view," read OSHA's report.

Frank Hawk, of the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, said Performance Builders has a reputation for offering some of the cheapest prices because of their pattern of cutting corners with safety.

"I think the only justice out there is that the owner of this company should go to jail," said Hawk. "Fines don't mean anything. I think they should lock (Sorensen) up... It's blatantly obvious that they don't care."

Many agree that OSHA's fines are toothless and contribute to a broken system that fails to keep workers safe.

Jacquelyn Bautista, Ricardo's wife, said she can't put a price on her husband, and that $7,550 is "nothing."

"It was five months ago, but it still feels like yesterday," she said through tears.

OSHA paperwork indicates Performance Builders received a 30 percent "discount" on its fines because of the company's "size" and "history."

FOX5 asked OSHA why this company would deserve a discount and why a discount system exists in the first place. We have not gotten back a response.

"It's troubling. It should be troubling to anyone," said Jones. "It's cheaper a lot of times for them to pay the fine then slow down and do what they need to do... It is a system that I do not believe provides justice for this family."

Multiple employees risked their jobs to tell OSHA how unsafe Performance Builders ran its work site.

One man wrote that the scaffold, "didn't feel right" and that it was "moving."

Another employee wrote, "I have been asking for more training because there is a lack of communication here. They don't tell me things when I ask."

A man we interviewed in November, who asked for his face to be blacked out, said he knew it was only a matter of time before someone was seriously hurt on Performance Builders' scaffold.

"I bet you (Ricardo) is rolling in his grave right now. I would be. It's a spit in the face," he said. "They were trying to cut corners and keep it as cheap as possible... The safety was questionable."

The deadline is unclear when Performance Builders will have to pay the fines or file an appeal.

Stay with FOX5 for updates throughout the week as we continue our coverage of this developing story.

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