Three companies, including one in Utah, were cited for safety violations and fined $32,000 over a September rocket fire that killed a technician and injured nine others at an Air Force base, officials said.
California's job safety agency, Cal-OSHA, issued citations against Wyle Laboratories of El Segundo, Utah-based Hercules Aerospace Inc. and Neil F. Lampson Inc. of Washington state.The agency seeks a total of $32,000 in fines, said Mark Carleson, deputy director of Cal-OSHA.
Telephone calls to the companies Saturday were not returned. Air Force officials wouldn't comment, except to say that an Air Force investigation was continuing.
On Sept. 7, a Titan 4 rocket motor dropped from a 400-foot crane at Edwards Air Force Base and burst into flames. Alan Quimby, 27, a Wyle technician, was struck and killed by counterweights that fell from the crane.
Nine other people were injured, two seriously, when the motor containing 270,000 pounds of solid fuel dropped 70 feet to the ground, skidded down a hillside and erupted in flames.
Lampson and Hercules agreed in December to pay a $2.4 million settlement to Quimby's wife and 3-month-old daughter. Attorneys for the family said Wyle was not involved in the settlement.
Cal-OSHA said its five-month investigation of the accident showed the giant crane collapsed because it was operating on a surface that could not support its weight.
"Based on the setup they had, it wasn't safe with any load," Carleson said. "It was not well-engineered. They thought this process was appropriate, but obviously they just did not do a very good job."
The crane's treads rolled off plywood mats used to create a level surface and broke through the gravel beneath, Carleson said. Investigators determined the gravel was too weak to support the equipment.
Investigators felt the companies did not knowingly permit unsafe working conditions, Carleson said.