State and county officials are continuing to investigate what led to the death of a construction worker on Wednesday in Nipomo.
California's Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened an investigation Thursday after it received a report of Jesse Maldonado’s death from his employer and the San Luis Obispo County sheriff-coroner’s office, spokeswoman Patricia Ortiz said today.
An investigator from the state agency’s Van Nuys office will interview witnesses and employees to determine what happened at the construction site of the Willow Road extension and Highway 101 interchange project in Nipomo.
Cal/OSHA will also be looking into whether Maldonado’s employer had followed heat-related requirements such as providing fresh water, access to shade and training employees on heat illness prevention, Ortiz said.
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It is unknown whether heat played a role in Maldonado’s death. The cause of death is unknown at this time, and an autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.
Maldonado died at Arroyo Grande Community Hospital on Wednesday. He’d started working on Monday for KCI Environmental Inc., a subcontractor on the Willow Road project, Curt Boutwell, a partner at the San Luis Obispo-based firm, said in a previous interview.
Maldonado was installing wattles, a form of erosion control, on the east side of Highway 101 when he was said he was feeling light-headed, said Ortiz, citing information she’d received so far from the Sheriff’s Department and KCI Environmental Inc.
He initially declined an offer to go to a hospital, Ortiz said. At some point, an ambulance was called, which reached Arroyo Grande Community Hospital at 3:28 p.m., said sheriff’s department Cmdr. Brian Hascall. Maldonado was pronounced dead at 3:59 p.m.
The construction site is about one mile north of Tefft Street in Nipomo. The $19 million project, which is expected to be complete in December 2012, is about 50 percent finished.
It will establish a direct link on the Nipomo Mesa from Highway 1 to Highway 101 and alleviate traffic congestion at Tefft Street.