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OSHA closes investigation of Cape Ferrat death incident

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Penalties reduced, OSHA says does not have jurisdiction over crew of the vessel

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has closed its investigation and reduced the penalty against a US based fishery company, Cape Ferrat Fishing Lp., following the death last year of a man who fell overboard a fishing vessel that was docked at the cannery side of Pago Pago Harbor, according to OHSA public records reviewed by Samoa News.

Samoa News reported last November on the death of the 62-year old captain of the US flagged purse seiner, Cape Ferrat, who died Oct. 28, while the vessel was in Pago Pago. Local police investigated the incident and recommended closing the case, after they determined no foul play was involved, and the incident was an unfortunate accident.

OSHA, a bureau of the US Department of Labor, conducted an investigation in the incident. On Mar. 26 this year, OSHA issued three proposed “serious” violations — each with a proposed fine of $5,174 and a fourth violation, described as “other” with a proposed fine of $3,696 — with total proposed fines of $19,218, according to OSHA public records as of yesterday morning.

It also shows that the fines and violations were contested by the company on Apr. 19.

However, as of yesterday morning, OSHA public records show that the case was closed Sept. 19th and under the formal settlement, the three serious violations were deleted, while the “other” violation remains.

Therefore there is only one current violation, “other” and current total penalty is $3,696, according to OSHA public records, which show a mailing address for the Cape Ferrat Fishing company in Bellevue, Washington

Responding to Samoa News questions, a USDOL spokesman first explained that Cape Ferrat Fishing Lp., had contested the citations and as a result, a stipulation and settlement agreement was signed on June 8, 2018.

According to the spokesman, it was determined that OSHA did not have jurisdiction over the crew of the vessel. And the serious violations cited and penalties associated with those citations to the company “were withdrawn”.

“The settlement did not affect the company's responsibility to notify OSHA of the fatality. The regulatory violation categorized as "other" was retained, along with the $3,696 penalty,” the spokesman notes.

OSHA public records reviewed by Samoa News show that the federal agency’s Honolulu District Office opened its investigation on Nov. 2, 2017 against Cape Ferrat Fishing, regarding the incident, in which an employee fell from the ship’s gangway and was killed.

According to the “accident investigation summary,” it was around 8:45p.m on Oct. 28, 2017 that an employee was walking up the gangway onto the fishing vessel and appeared to have stopped at the top of the gangway.

The employee “was in the process of coming off the gangway onto the steps when he fell overboard between the vessel and the pier and drowned,” the summary states. “The employee had a large head wound and was unresponsive when removed from the water.”

OSHA investigation found that a “stanchion on the gangway was not secure and there was no safety net provided between the vessel and the pier. The employee fell from the top of the gangway, hitting his head either on the side of the vessel or the pier and then into the water.”

No other information was provided in the investigation summary about the employee.

Meanwhile, a High Court of American Samoa notice published in Samoa News — as a paid advertisement — on Sept. 14, and again Sept. 18 and two more publications next month shows the Cape Ferrat, the vessel, has been arrested in connection with the case of plaintiffs: Maren Miller, personal representative of the beneficiaries and estate of Michael Castaneda, deceased; and Tracey Castaneda,  against F/V Cape Ferrat and two others.

The notice says that on Sept. 7th pursuant to a High Court, Trial Division order, the Marshal of the High Court of American Samoa arrested the F/V Cape Ferrat, cargo, freight, equipment, engines, tackle, masts, boats, anchors,, cables chains, rigging, skiffs, furniture and all other necessaries.