Worker killed at IPI construction site

Victim plunged 24 feet
The Imperial Pacific Resort's facade is slowly showing its final design with workers hurrying up the construction of the multimillion dollar integrated resort for a possible March 31 opening of the casino floor. (Jon Perez)

The Imperial Pacific Resort’s facade is slowly showing its final design with workers hurrying up the construction of the multimillion dollar integrated resort for a possible March 31 opening of the casino floor. (Jon Perez)

A 43-year-old Chinese national was killed after reportedly falling 24 feet from a scaffold at the construction site of the multi-million dollar Imperial Pacific Resort project in Garapan yesterday morning.

Saipan Tribune learned from the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services that when a DFEMS ambulance arrived at the construction site, the victim had already been taken to the Commonwealth Health Center.

DPS Commissioner Robert Guerrero confirmed with Saipan Tribune the accident that led to the worker’s death. He said DPS will release more details today, Thursday.

Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC chair Mark A. Brown expressed serious concern for the accident, saying they have again advised their subcontractors to exercise safety first at the construction site.

Brown said in a statement that he was informed yesterday morning of the tragic accident involving a subcontractor’s employee at the construction site.

“The circumstances surrounding this morning’s tragic events are still under investigation by authorities. Therefore, IPI is unable to release any information regarding the incident,” Brown said.

A DPS source disclosed that the worker was apparently climbing to the fourth floor level on a scaffold or scaffolding when he plunged to the ground.

The source said the worker broke his neck.

A scaffold is a temporary structure on the outside of a building, usually made of wooden planks and metal poles used by workers while constructing, repairing, or cleaning a building.

Acting DPS spokesman Jason Tarkong said that police responded to a reported injured person incident at the Imperial Pacific Resort construction site at 7:36am.

“Right now it is classified as an accidental death of a 43-year-old Chinese male,” Tarkong said.

Tarkong said he would have to review the report and clear it with Guerrero before releasing any additional information.

According to Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. executive director Esther Muña, the victim fell from the third floor of a building and was declared dead on arrival at CHC yesterday morning.

Muña said the victim was transported to CHC at 7:50am. She did not indicate who brought the victim to the hospital.

In his statement, Brown said the name of the worker is being withheld pending notification of next of kin by their subcontractor.

“On behalf of the company, our thoughts and prayers go out to the worker’s families. We wish to express our most sincere sympathies and deepest condolence to the deceased and his family during this difficult time,” Brown said.

Brown stated that IPI’s construction team is composed of world-class professionals who will ensure construction of a world-class resort while taking measures to ensure workers’ safety at all times.

At the same time, he said, the company is most concerned with reports of workers on site that infringes the law.

Brown said the company does not accept such activities and will terminate contracts with contractors who fail to comply with the law.

Last December, then-U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez requested the U.S. District Court for the NMI to issue an ex parte warrant to inspect the Imperial Pacific Resort construction project after an Occupational Safety and Health Administration tried, but was denied entry, to inspect the site to investigate the alleged death of a worker and “other accidents.”

Federal judge Ramona V. Manglona granted Perez’s request, but MCC International Saipan Ltd. Co., which operates a construction contracting business at the project, initially objected and filed an emergency motion to quash the warrant. MCC later withdrew its motion, prompting OSHA personnel to inspect the site.

MCC International reported to OSHA that last Dec. 6, an onsite worker had a heart attack and died on Dec. 4, 2016.

Assistant U.S. attorney James Benedetto, counsel for Perez, stated that an OSHA compliance safety and health officer went to the site last Dec. 6 to inquire about the death and he observed what appeared to be workers exposed to fall hazards such as climbing from one level of the scaffolding to another without being continuously protected from a fall hazard.

Last March 16, a trash fire hit the construction site of Imperial Pacific Resort, stopping all activities in the area for several hours. No one was injured in the fire that broke out past 3pm.

It is not clear yet whether Imperial Pacific Resort will be able to open its casino at next week’s targeted date.

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Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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