Worker’s Death Leads San Francisco, Mexican Authorities To Improve Workplace Safety

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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – San Francisco prosecutors and Mexican authorities announced an agreement Monday they hope will improve workplace safety for immigrants in hazardous professions.

The memorandum of understanding signed by the Mexican Consul General of San Francisco and the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office stems from an incident where a construction worker fell four stories to his death while employed by a roofing company previously been cited for safety violations by state regulators.

KCBS’ Susan Kennedy Reports:

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said a “blatant disregard for safety” contributed to the circumstances that killed 39-year-old Antonio Martinez of Mexico.

Six years before Martinez was killed, the Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Occupational Safety and Health had ordered the company, California C&R Inc., to adopt written safety guidelines. It had not complied with that order despite several citations from Cal-OSHA.

Both the company’s owner and its foreman were sentenced to one year in county jail for negligence that led to his death, tax fraud and evasion. They were also ordered to pay restitution to Martinez’s family.

Gascon said many immigrant workers are wary of approaching authorities to file a complaint, whether they are facing potentially deadly occupational hazards or simply having trouble getting paid.

“It is a very common problem,” he said.

Gascon said the written agreement with Mexican authorities was meant to enhance cooperation so the city could make better use of existing mechanisms to prosecute workplace abuses.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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