CNMI governor's office said agencies responded effectively to IPI construction site incident

CASINO: The Saipan casino, operated by Imperial Pacific International, is shown Nov. 7. The former director of hotel operations for IPI alleges he was fired because of his race and because he made multiple complaints about violations of immigration and local laws. Dontana Keraskes/The Guam Daily Post

On Friday, CNMI government enforcement agencies responded effectively to an accident at the Imperial Pacific International construction site in Garapan, according to a press release from the governor's office. 

Throughout the day, first responders and officials from the Department of Public Safety, Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, Department of Public Works, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Commonwealth Casino Commission were at the scene conducting enforcement and implementing additional protective measures at the construction site to ensure safety and compliance with Commonwealth and federal law, according to a press release. 

At 11:21 a.m., police officers from the Department of Public Safety and emergency medical teams from the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services were dispatched and arrived four minutes later to immediately tend to the three injured workers.

Police officers directed traffic, cleared the area for firefighters and additional emergency medical technicians, and conducted interviews with eyewitnesses at the scene. After conducting additional interviews at the hospital and inspections at the site, officials confirmed that the accident occurred as a result of a collapsed scaffolding.

The three individuals were transported to the hospital for treatment and observation. DFEMS reported that the three individuals were complaining of body pains, but did not lose consciousness.

Later that afternoon, DPW Building Safety officials conducted an inspection of the site of the accident and issued a stop work order at the construction site. DOL-OSHA officials were also on-site to assist in the assessment.

DPW will be reassessing the site this week with the construction site’s Quality Control manager and DOL-OSHA. Construction will be allowed to resume after it is determined that the site’s working conditions are safe and healthy for construction workers.

The CCC’s Division on Enforcement and Investigation were on-site that afternoon as well to monitor the situation, which did not have an impact on gaming operations. The CCC, in addition to the other agencies, will continue to monitor the situation.

Governor Ralph DLG. Torres and Lt. Governor Arnold I. Palacios issued the following statement on Friday’s incident:

“First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the workers who were involved in the accident on Friday, as well as with their families. We are grateful to our enforcement agencies and first responders for providing medical attention and to stop work until we deem the site safe and healthy for construction to continue. Our office, through our departments and agencies, closely monitored the situation throughout the afternoon to ensure that proper enforcement and protocol were established.

On Saturday morning, we held a meeting with DPS Commissioner Robert Guerrero, DFEMS Commissioner Dennis Mendiola, Secretary of Public Works James Ada, and Secretary of Labor Vicky Benavente to discuss the after-action reports and next steps to prevent this from occurring again. CHCC has confirmed with us that the three individuals are all fine and will be provided necessary treatment and recovery.

Our top priority is to ensure everyone at the site, as well as everyone around the CNMI’s jobsites can return home safely to their families at the end of each day. We have implemented safety processes and protocols to ensure jobsites remain safe. Both IPI, other developers, and construction partners are cooperating fully with local and federal law.

DPW and DOL will be conducting site assessments to ensure a safer work environment for the future, and the CCC will continue their work of enforcing the casino operations. We will continue to share additional information as it becomes available.

This administration remains committed to ensure that the project is completed safely, and we will continue to effectively respond to any incident at any one of the jobsites around the CNMI.”