Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

PolitiFact Florida | St. Petersburg Times
Sorting out the truth in state politics

Scuba Clean threatened by numerous violations, not solely because it didn't hire lifeguard

In a television ad, Republican Jeff Brandes touts his ability to save jobs in Florida House District 52 with the story of a boat cleaning company threatened with closure by over-the-top government regulation.

"Small business is where the jobs are, like a 30-year-old boat cleaning business employing 18 people," says Brandes, standing near a pier. "But their jobs are on the line, all because government essentially says if they don't hire a lifeguard to watch their workers, they can't stay open. Even when the water's only a few feet deep."

But is the government really forcing a business to hire a lifeguard or shut down?

The case involves Scuba Clean Inc., a St. Petersburg company that this year was cited for 19 violations by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The company faces more than $200,000 in penalties.

OSHA did indeed demand that the company hire a trained tender to watch over divers for safety, and the fine for that violation is $49,000. A tender is similar to a lifeguard but with much more extensive training.

Owner Phil Secord disputed the violations and contested the fines, and said he is closing his company over the citations. He laid off at least one worker.

The three most serious fines stemmed from allegations that the company had workers in the water who weren't trained under the standards for commercial diving, and for using air through a line from the surface without a tender. However, there were 16 other unrelated violations alleged, including the company not having a supervisor on site, not having written safety procedures and equipment, and improper storage of chlorine and other chemicals.

Secord indeed said the government is killing him with unneeded regulation. He said his divers mostly clean boats in waters 4 to 6 feet deep at marinas. Employing a tender would be unnecessary and expensive, he said.

It is true that OSHA rules don't discriminate between people cleaning boats in shallow water and commercial divers who work in deep water, according to commercial diving trainers.

"It's not a gray area. It's cut and dry. And it's a federal regulation," said Geoff Thielst, a 30-year commercial diver and program director of marine technology training at Santa Barbara City College.

But Brandes said the business was threatened "all because" Scuba Clean didn't hire a lifeguard — the tender. The bulk of the alleged violations involved training of divers, equipment and safety practices, not just the absence of a lifeguard.

Therefore, we rule this claim Half True.

The statement

Company may close, "all because government essentially says if they don't hire a lifeguard to watch their workers, they can't stay open."

Jeff Brandes, Sept. 26, 2010 in a campaign video.

The ruling

But Brandes said the business was threatened "all because" Scuba Clean didn't hire a lifeguard — the tender. The bulk of the alleged violations and fines that have put this business' future in doubt involved training of divers, equipment and safety practices, not just the absence of a lifeguard. Therefore, we rule this claim Half True.

Scuba Clean threatened by numerous violations, not solely because it didn't hire lifeguard 10/28/10 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 10:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)

    World

    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  2. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  3. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  4. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.
  5. Big cases, retirement rumors as Supreme Court nears finish

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court enters its final week of work before a long summer hiatus with action expected on the Trump administration's travel ban and a decision due in a separation of church and state case that arises from a Missouri church playground.

    Justice Anthony Kennedy will be turning 81 next month.