Latest News 2017 August OSHA Issues $119K in Fines After 3 Killed in Accident

OSHA Issues $119K in Fines After 3 Killed in Accident

Sometimes attempting to rescue others doesn't make us a hero—sometimes it makes us an additional victim.

In January of this year, three men were killed in an accident involving a confined space. A 34-year-old worker was working in a manhole when he quickly lost consciousness. His co-worker, a 49-year-old, followed him in to retrieve him and quickly suffered the same fate. The third worker was a 24-year-old who died attempting to retrieve the both of them. Later, the manhole was discovered to be filled with hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide.

The tragic accident highlights that our nobility and our willingness to risk our lives for our co-workers must be backed by training and proper equipment.

OSHA Fines the Employer for 10 Serious Violations

The employer for all three men, Higgins & McKenna, was given over $119,000 in fines after being found negligent in 10 different ways. Of their numerous violations, OSHA found them at fault for failing to ventilate the confined space, failing to protect their workers from asphyxiation risk, and failing to provide their workers with the proper equipment to conduct a rescue.

With the proper training and equipment, these men might have been less likely to die in this accident. At the very least, they would have had the option of doing a safe and effective rescue. Tragically, most deaths in confined spaces are due to attempted rescues. The data shows that 60% of confined space deaths are from bystanders or workers trying to help victims.

Proper training, drills, and equipment would allow workers to be prepared for a confined space accident—making them more effective rescuers. Rather than force workers to remain safe by standing by, employers need to empower workers to stay safe while helping co-workers in need.

Perhaps, with greater awareness, there could be fewer stories about tragic rescue attempts and more stories about successful ones.