The 17th annual memorial honoring ILWU members who have died on the job was especially poignant on May 15 just hours after a terminal accident took the life of dockworker Jose Santoyo and sent another, Pedro Chavarin, to the hospital with serious injuries. An investigation has resulted in citations for safety violations being issued to the terminal amounting to more than $80,000. Eric Rigler plays the bagpipes as members of the ILWU family gathered for the ceremony in San Pedro. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)
By  | dlittlejohn@scng.com | Daily Breeze
Fines totalling more than $80,000 have been leveled against a Port of Los Angeles terminal where a dockworker was killed and another seriously injured last spring.
Jose Santoyo, 58, was killed on May 15, while he and a co-worker, Pedro Chavarin, were changing a tire on a top loader — used to reposition shipping containers as they are unloaded — at Fenix Marine Services Terminal, on Pier 300. Witnesses at the time said a noise like an explosion reverberated across the grounds.
An initial notification from the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health said Santoyo was struck by an exploding tire. Chavarin was seriously injured but survived; he had a lengthy hospital stay and several surgeries.
The terminal did not return requests for comment.
Santoyo and Chavarin were maintenance workers and members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
After investigating for several months, Cal/OHSA determined that the terminal failed to:
  • Ensure the rim base of the right front outer tire of the top loader container handler was in safe operating condition;
  • ensure power shop mechanics deflate split-rim tires by removing the valve core
  • train mechanic employees to service single, split and multi-piece rims or wheels safely;and
  • require restraining devices capable of preventing wheel components from being dislodged.
The company also did not maintain an effective “injury and illness prevention program,” the agency found.
Cal/OSHA spokesman Frank Polizzi said the five citations were issued in November and were classified as “serious.” Penalties amounted to $80,375, he said.
ILWU Local 13 President Ray Familathe said he had not seen the findings when contacted Wednesday morning, Jan. 29, and deferred comment until he could review them.
But the early-morning incident on May 15 sent shock waves across both the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach.  At the time, it was unclear what caused the accident. But it was a stark reminder of how dangerous working on the docks can still be.
Terminal management released a statement on the day of the accident that said officials were “deeply saddened” by what happened.
“The safety and well-being of our employees is always our primary concern,” the statement said, “and an investigation is underway with local agencies to ensure a cause is identified and to prevent such incidents.”
Santoyo’s death — which the Los Angeles County Coroner ruled the result of multiple traumatic injuries — occurred hours before the ILWU hosted its 17th annual “First Blood” Memorial honoring union founders and all those who died carrying out their jobs.
Santoyo’s death brought the list of the deceased being honored at the San Pedro service up to 69.
Cal/OSHA investigators interviewed workers, the employer, supervisors and others during the course of the six-month inquiry to determine what caused the accident and whether there were any violations of workplace safety regulations.
Longshore Safety - Ron Signorino