Worker Struck by Excavator Bucket, Dies

September 26, 2014

OSHA issued two serious safety violations after two workers were injured, one fatally, after being struck-by an excavator bucket while installing stormwater drainage in a trench at the intersection of 18th and Grant Streets in Holdrege, Neb., on July 17, 2014.

OSHA cited Van Kirk Sand and Gravel, which operates as Van Kirk Brothers Contracting, and has proposed fines of $14,000 for the two serious violations. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known existed.

OSHA's inspection found that one of the employees sustained puncture wounds from the bucket after it disconnected from the excavator and rolled into the trench from a height of about 4 feet. He died from his injuries later that day. The second employee suffered contusions and abrasions in the incident and has since returned to work.

"No one should lose their life on the job. Tragedies like this are preventable, if companies choose to protect their employees from known hazards," said Bonita Winingham, OSHA's area director in Omaha. "Employers have a responsibility to protect their employees, and Van Kirk Sand fundamentally failed to do that."

The company was cited for failing to train workers in the recognition of unsafe conditions and to teach them how to access emergency medical services from a job site. It took the rescue squad more than 11 minutes to arrive on scene.

The Sutton-based company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.