Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Iowa Issues $808,000 Fine after Drownings. (OSHA)

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Iowa Issues $808,000 Fine after Drownings. (OSHA)

Article excerpt

Insituform Technologies Inc., Chesterfield, Mo., is facing one of the highest OSHA penalties in the history of Iowa's state OSHA program after a July 8 incident in which two employees drowned in a Des Moines sewer and five were hospitalized.

Michele Lucas, an Insituform spokesperson, said in a Sept. 24 interview that the victims requiring hospitalization have been released and have no signs of long-term health consequences.

Iowa OSHA issued 11 willful citations against the company for alleged violations of various subsections of OSHA's confined space regulation, 19l0.146(d), each carrying the maximum $70,000 fine.

Because the incident occurred in Iowa, a state-plan state, the company is automatically confronted with possible criminal charges. "If we issue willful violations as a result of a fatality investigation, we always turn it over to the county prosecutor," said Mary Bryant, the state plan's administrator.

Daniel Grasshoff and Brian Burford drowned in more than a foot of watery sewage while working on an older sewer line, according to Iowa OSHA. Experts believe the workers accidentally released hydrogen sulfide, a byproduct of sewage, and were overcome by the fumes. The fumes overcame the other five workers when they tried to rescue Grasshoff and Burford. …

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