SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.—Today, the County of Santa Clara released a shocking video of a steam pipe explosion that placed construction workers at serious risk of injury or death last year at a construction site at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.
Last week, the County of Santa Clara sent a notice of default to Turner Construction on both the Hospital Bed Building and the North Utility Loop Project. The construction and design of the North Utility Loop Project, where the catastrophic accident occurred, is the responsibility of Turner.
“The video of this catastrophic failure shows a clear breakdown in design safety and safety protocols on the jobsite by Turner Construction,” said Jeff Draper, Director of Facilities and Fleet Department for the County of Santa Clara. “It was only through the grace of God that the worker survived this accident.”
The video shows workers activating the steam system for the North Utility Loop which provides steam and chilled water to the facilities at Valley Medical Center. During the course of the process for starting the steam system, the audio clearly demonstrates a loud popping sound, followed by verbal concerns expressed by crews on site. Then, after over a minute of the audible popping noises, as a crew member attempts to escape the underground vault, the pipe explodes discharging boiling hot steam through the manhole and over the worker. The incident occurred on September 3, 2014.
“Safety is our top priority at any job site. For almost a full year, we have asked Turner to provide a complete analysis of why the accident occurred and a thorough plan on how they can prove the steam system is safe for employees, patients and the public,” stated Draper. “No progress has been made on the project since the accident last year due to Turner failing to get the appropriate permits demonstrating that their design is safe.”
The severe lapse in safety, and failure of Turner Construction to assure the County that the project is safe was a major justification for the County issuing the default notice to Turner.