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Cal/OSHA probes 2 firms after fire injures 8 workers

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is investigating two construction firms that were renovating the former Renoir Hotel in California when a fire began and injured eight workers. The incident was reported just after noon on August 6, and it took more than three hours to extinguish the fire.

Kor Group bought the eight-story McAllister Street property in 2012 and is renovating it into an updated hotel. A representative of Cal/OSHA says that the general contractor is Pacific Structures and the subcontractor is Emerald Steel. Fire officials say that there were about 24 workers in the former hotel when the fire started. Eight people suffered minor injuries, but only seven of them were hospitalized for smoke inhalation, as the eighth worker refused hospital transport. The Cal/OSHA representative said that several of the injured people work for Emerald Steel, and they were fitting studs on an existing structure at the time of the incident. The agency is looking into whether that work triggered the blaze.

Included in the investigation is a review of each company's safety records over the previous five years. Pacific Structures was inspected six times during that period. In June 2013, inspectors found that the company violated safety protocols for piling materials and health regulations for respiratory protection. It was issued a $935 citation for the violations. Emerald Steel, however, has no safety or health violations for the period.

Workers who are injured in construction accidents could be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. These benefits might pay for medical care and vocational rehabilitation. The medical care benefits may include prescription medication and doctor visits. Workers' compensation could also provide compensation for temporary and permanent disabilities as well as supplemental job displacement.

Source: State of California Department of Industrial Relations, 'Employer information"

Source: The San Francisco Examiner, "Cal/OSHA looking into welding work before 3-alarm fire at Renoir Hotel", August 06, 2014

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