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DA visits local construction sites for workers’ comp check

Posted on 23 February 2012 by admin

Three area contractors out of compliance

Tomoya Shimura, Staff Writer

VICTORVILLE • Carrying a badge and a gun on his belt, Steve Rivera walked into a trailer at the new Walmart Supercenter construction site.

The senior investigator for the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office politely asked site supervisors to give him a list of their subcontractors, explaining he was making sure they are carrying workers’ compensation insurance.

Partnering with the California Contractor’s State License Board and other state agencies, the District Attorney’s office conducted surprise compliance checks Thursday with Victor Valley businesses involved in construction-type work at their job sites.

In response to some contractors failing to provide the insurance coverage, county authorities began cracking down on the fraud a few months ago.

According to the law, prosecutors can file criminal charges against any businesses owners who have employees but don’t get proper workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Rivera said the insurance protects both the employers and employees.

Looking a bit puzzled and nervous, the general contractor supervisors at the Walmart site left to contact their corporate office and get the list. Rivera waited patiently outside with other state agency officials until the supervisors came back with the list after about 30 minutes.

“Big guys” — like Walmart — “are usually in compliance,” Rivera said.

But workers’ compensation insurance inspections are so rare that one worker at the site said he had never seen one in his 20-year career.

Rivera and another team of investigators contacted a total of 22 businesses at 14 construction sites Thursday. All the businesses Rivera visited in the Victor Valley were in compliance, he said.

But the other team found three contractors not in compliance, and the state license board issued them stop-work orders.

Rivera said most contractors will try to comply within a week so they can resume work again. But if they don’t, Rivera said they could face criminal charges and a fine of $10,000 for each employee they have.

Tomoya Shimura may be reached at (760) 955-5368 or TShimura@VVDailyPress.com. Follow Tomoya on Facebook at facebook.com/ShimuraTomoya.

http://www.vvdailypress.com/articles/visits-32567-comp-workers.html

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