The Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, received a serious violation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration office in Norfolk after a shipyard employee fell and died from his injuries three weeks later in the hospital.
“On Jan. 3, we were notified that James Goins, a master shipbuilder and sheet metal worker specialist, passed away after being hospitalized for injuries sustained during a fall at our facility on Dec. 13,” Duane Bourne, spokesman for NNS wrote in an email to WYDaily on Jan. 23.
Goins suffered contusions to his back, shoulder and arms and died because of complication to the surgery, said Joanna Hawkins, spokeswoman for the U.S Department of Labor.
According to the Citation and Notification of Penalty issued to the shipyard, the OSHA investigation cited NNS for a “serious violation” not related to Goin’s injuries and later death, but rather the the working conditions at the shipyard.
Hawkins said when OSHA was looking into Goin’s death, investigators saw there were hazardous conditions on walking-working surfaces which were not corrected at the time ––– mainly restricted access between the exit door of temporary office facilities, in this case, a shipping container and a nearby stairway.
The shipyard has to pay $13,260, the maximum penalty amount, by Aug. 1.
In regards to Goin’s workplace injuries, Hawkins noted they were not 100 percent sure what exactly happened.
“There were no witnesses that actually observed the incident as it transpired,” Hawkins said, adding there was speculation the employee was sitting on a railing and looking at his cellphone before he fell approximately 8 feet.
Goins was a member of the United Steelworks Union Local 888 and the union did not immediately respond for comment.
It is not clear if the shipyard added additional safety measures following the OSHA report.
Later Wednesday afternoon, Duane Bourne, spokesman for the Newport News Shipbuilding, emailed this statement:
“Newport News Shipbuilding takes seriously its commitment to workplace safety. As an Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Voluntary Protection Program site, we have an engaged safety culture and are continuously working to improve safety at the shipyard. OSHA visited Newport News on multiple occasions and did not cite the company for any safety violations related to this incident. In the interest of the family’s privacy, we will not provide additional details at this time.”