Hawthorne Pacific faces $70K in fines following crane fatality

Hawthorne Pacific Corp. in Kahului faces proposed fines of $70,000 after being cited for 13 alleged serious violations and two other violations, following the death last year of a worker who was crushed by a crane, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“Hawthorne Pacific Corp. failed in its responsibility to ensure that workers followed the manufacturer’s requirements for the safe operation and maintenance of equipment,” said Galen Lemke, director of OSHA’s Honolulu area office. “This tragic accident could have easily been prevented had the employer addressed these issues.”

Police said Ronald Nakasone, a Hawthorne Pacific heavy equipment mechanic, had been operating a boom truck crane in the company baseyard on Hana Highway when he was pinned under the crane. The 62-year-old Kahului resident died at the scene of the accident Oct. 23, police said.

An inspection by OSHA’s Honolulu area office “found that outriggers designed to stabilize the truck-mounted crane that crushed the worker were not extended, allowing it to tip, and that the company failed to properly inspect and maintain records of critical items on the crane,” according to a U.S. Department of Labor news release.

“The industrial boom truck crane had been out of service for more than six months and had not had a complete inspection before use,” the news release said. “The company also failed to properly tag keys for the truck crane as ‘do not use’ because a warning indicator wasn’t functioning.”

“From what we found, it wasn’t fully operational at the time,” Lemke said.

He said use of the crane should have been prevented.

The inspection of the heavy equipment rental and repair business also found that shop equipment and compressed gas cylinders were not properly secured or anchored, some equipment was not in good operating condition, electrical outlets were not properly protected and machines were not properly guarded to prevent amputation or other injuries, according to the news release.

It said “the company also failed to make eye or body wash facilities accessible in key areas where workers were exposed to corrosive liquids.”

A violation is considered serious “when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known,” according to the news release.

Lemke said Hawthorne Pacific received notice of the citations and proposed fines Wednesday.

The company has 15 business days from receipt to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

A call to Hawthorne Pacific wasn’t returned Monday.

OSHA responds when there are workplace deaths, accidents or complaints.

“Employers have the responsibility to provide a safe, healthful workplace by ensuring that employees are trained and equipment is maintained properly,” Lemke said.

People can file complaints or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or dangers to workers by calling OSHA’s toll-free hotline, (800) 321-6742 or the agency’s Honolulu office at (808) 541-2680. More information also is available at

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at