Firm Fined in Death of Driver

Matson Terminals Inc. has been fined $1,000 by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration for violation of federal job safety laws after a truck driver was crushed to death last month by a shipping container at its Terminal Island facility.

Leslie W. Michael, director of OSHA's Long Beach office, said Wednesday that Matson was cited for the failure of a crane operator to properly engage so-called "J" hooks that are used to lift containers.

Michael said the failure allowed the 40-foot shipping container to drop onto the truck cab killing Michael Gomez, 27, of Montebello.

A serious violation of OSHA regulations is one "where there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and where the employer knew, or could have known, of the hazard."

Sloan White, senior counsel for Matson Navigation Co., parent company of Matson Terminals, said no decision has been made on whether to contest OSHA's citation and fine. "We are still in the process of investigating exactly what the cause of the accident was," White said.

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