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Coachella festival worker died after not securing harness

A worker who died at the Empire Polo Grounds in April while setting up for the Coachella Festival did not have his safety harness properly secured before the accident which led to his injury.

49-year-old San Diego resident Christopher Griffin died on April 6, according to the Riverside County Coroner’s Bureau.

On Monday, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) released its findings in what lead to the death of Griffin.

According to the report, which was issued over six months after the accident, Griffin was working for Kleege Industries was on the main stage when he fell to his death. He was the “rigging lead” and was 50-feet above the ground setting up an electric chain motor that pulls speakers and lighting above the “Main Stage” when he fell.

Griffin was reportedly wearing a harness but did not utilize a lanyard nor was he tied off to prevent his fall. The report also indicated there were other factors contributing to the incident, including a lack of walking surfaces such as decking, and no fall protection.

Cal Osha fined Kleege Industries for three citations, two relating to the accident.

The citations:

For not ensuring that the head rigger used a personal fall protection system secured to a substantial segment of the structure to prevent a falling incident.
For failing to ensure an employee did not climb on the edge of the Aerial Device to gain greater working height onto the stage structure.
For not having a heat illness prevention plan posted on the job site

The fines attached to the citations total $1285. Kleege Industries has 15 days to respond to/contest the rulings, or pay the fines.

This is the first Cal/OSHA investigation into Kleege Industries.

“It was a real tragedy and we all asked ourselves what could have been done, when the accident first occurred, no one knew the circumstances,” Indio City Manager Mark Scott wrote in an email to News Channel 3. “We just knew there had been an industrial accident. Therefore we wondered what might have caused it. Once we knew, it was not something we had any role in overseeing, but felt the tragedy no less.”

Goldenvoice, the company behind Coachella and Stagecoach, provided the following statement shortly after Griffin’s death:

“Today, Goldenvoice lost a colleague, a friend, a family member. Our friend fell while working on a festival stage. It is with heavy hearts and tremendous difficulty that we confirm his passing. He has been with our team for twenty years in the desert and was doing what he loved. He was a hard-working and loving person that cared deeply about his team. As our lead rigger, he was responsible for the countless incredible shows that have been put on at the festival. We will miss him dearly.”

Read the full Cal/Osha report below:

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KESQ News Team

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