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OSHA issues four violations and fines against Cape Ferrat in death of its captain

Owner of vessel contesting OSHA violations and fines

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued four violations, three of which are considered “serious” — and fines totaling more than $19,000 — following the death 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 had reported last November that 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.

The incident occurred around 9p.m. behind the Samoa Tuna Processors (STP) facility in Atu’u. Based on information from local sources, Samoa News reported at the time that the man was believed to have fallen into the ocean and sustained injuries to his head.

Since then, there have been no other specific details about the incident and there have been questions in the local fishery community as to status of this case.

US Labor Department’s spokesman Jose Carnevali confirmed to Samoa News last November that OSHA had initiated an investigation into this fatality but couldn’t comment further as the case was still open. (OSHA is a bureau of the US Labor Department.)

However, OSHA public records reviewed by Samoa News yesterday show that the federal agency’s Honolulu District Office opened its investigation on Nov. 2, 2017 against the fishing vessel’s owner, Cape Ferrat Fishing, Lp 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.

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 at $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.

Because the case is still open, no specific details are available from OSHA on the violations and it’s unclear as to when the case will be closed.

Cape Ferrat Fishing Lp., couldn’t immediately be reached for comments. OSHA records provide a mailing address for the company in Bellevue, Washington.