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Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (MPD-SBMA)

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24 January 2009

SBMA on another fatal accident at Hanjin: ‘Heads will roll’

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) said it will pursue the prosecution of all parties found liable in the death of another worker at the Hanjin shipyard here on Friday, even as it suspended a subcontractor whose operations led to the fatal accident.

“We’re definitely taking action on this, and heads will roll,” SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said, as he announced the suspension of Great Steel Construction during a press conference held just a few hours after the accident.

“We will be firm, but fair,” he vowed.

Arreza ordered the suspension of Great Steel after an 11x5-meter curtain door that the firm was installing in one assembly shop fell on two shipyard workers.

Initial reports from SBMA investigators identified the fatality as Raldon del Rosario, 19 years old, and a resident of Kalinga Apayao, who suffered “massive head injury” as a result of the accident.

Another worker, identified as Camalao Bochei, 24, also from Kalinga Apayao, suffered leg injury and was brought to the St. Jude Hospital in Olongapo City for treatment.

Both Del Rosario and Bochei were hired only in November last year by Redondo I-Tech Corp., another Hanjin subcontractor.

SBMA investigators said the two victims were just passing by the assembly shop where Great Steel workers were installing a rain curtain when the accident happened at about 8:15 a.m.

At that time, Great Steel workers were reportedly testing the rain curtain – a huge manual canvass door with a metal base - by pulling the canvass up and down with a rigged chain and pulley.

However, the chain holding the door reportedly broke, causing the door’s metal base support to be detached.

The canvass door and its metal frame, which weighed a total of 800 kilograms, thereafter fell on the two victims.

Del Rosario is said to be the 18th fatality at the Hanjin shipyard since it began operations in 2006. Most of the fatal accidents, or a total of 15, occurred at construction sites worked at by various subcontractors.

But while emphasizing that the recent death “had nothing to do with shipbuilding activity”, Arreza added that this does not necessarily clear Hanjin Heavy Industries Co.-Philippines (HHIC-Phil), which operates the $1.7-billion shipyard here.

“The SBMA is also looking into the contingent liability of Hanjin, because it is the general contractor of the shipyard,” he said.

Arreza said he has also instructed the SBMA Legal Department to assist the families of the victims, even as the agency is investigating the incident fully.

“We will push through with prosecuting all those who will be found liable,” Arreza said.

He also said that SBMA safety personnel are now checking on all canvass doors installed by Great Steel Construction in the Hanjin facility to find out if the subcontractor had been using substandard materials in its projects.

Noting that there were no barriers nor warning signs that would have prevented the two victims from passing by the Great Steel worksite, Arreza said that as the general contractor, Hanjin should have enforced safety regulations in the area.

He also said that the SBMA has recently issued two notices of violation to Hanjin after the SBMA noted in a safety inspection on January 6 that some workers in the shipyard did not have personal protective equipment (PPE), and that some work areas were dimly-lit and not well-ventilated.

In a letter to the SBMA, meanwhile, HHIC-Phil deputy managing director Pyeong Jong Yu said the Hanjin subcontractor was to blame for the accident.

“As it is very clear that the incident was caused by either improper installation of chain block, or mechanical failure of some of its components, and no signage was installed by them thereon to prevent incidental use of it before completion of its installation, we will hold them (Great Steel Construction) responsible for the accident,” Yu said. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

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