Separate investigations underway into deadly Pearl Harbor accident

Federal investigators, both military and civilian, now have the task of trying to figure out what caused the Pearl Harbor accident that killed two workers and injured two others.

It happened Wednesday morning at the Navy maintenance facility for inactive ships.

Emergency Medical Services says a five-ton buoy, which was raised about 70 feet high, fell off the crane and landed on workers.

KHON2 spoke with the U.S. Navy and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, and both confirmed they are conducting their own investigations as to how this tragedy happened.

The Navy says it will put together a safety investigation board, which will consist of three to five members, all Navy personnel.

The shipyard is Navy property, but the workers are all civilians hired by private contractor Healy Tibbitts Builders. Therefore, OSHA is conducting its own investigation.

Several witnesses, mostly workers, have been interviewed.

“Some of the things we’ll be looking at will be the equipment, the crane, the rigging equipment, and also the proximity or the location of the employees in the work area,” said OSHA area director Jeff Romeo.

While it’s possible that there could have been some mechanical failure, Romeo says investigators will also be looking at whether the workers should not have been where they were when it happened.

“We do have some rules and regulations that talk about the location of employees not to be under the load, but there are some other situations where they may have certain reasons to be in the proximity of the load depending on what they’re doing, so we have to take a look at that to find out exactly what they were doing at the time,” Romeo said.

Weights and measurements of the heavy equipment will be taken to determine what went wrong.

If safety rules were not followed, Healy Tibbitts could be fined $7,000 for each violation.

Romeo says shipyard accidents in Hawaii are rare, but nationally, they do happen more often.

“The thing is when something happens at a shipyard, it usually involves heavy equipment and the extent of those incidents can be pretty fatal,” Romeo said.

OSHA says it can take up to six months to finish the investigation. The Navy says results of its investigation could be released in two months.

The Honolulu medical examiner has identified the two workers who died, but KHON2 is not publishing their names at the request of their families.

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