Weekly Toll: Workers’ deaths are not statistics
Posted with permission from Confined Space, a newsletter of workplace safety and labor issues.
A couple of comments before we get to this week’s list. We’ve written about OSHA’s unfortunate decision to remove the names of workers killed on the job from their webpage. Jennifer Gollan of Reveal News interviewed a number of family members of workers killed on the job who felt that OSHA’s decision was wrong and reduces their loved ones’ deaths to a statistic. Also note that there are several workers on this list that lost their lives in rescue attempts during Hurricane Harvey, including a “Dreamer” who was in the country under DACA, and three Mexican nationals who had come to Houston as volunteers for the Mexican Red Cross.
Man crushed to death by heavy equipment at Ohio factory
Franklin, OH — A 28-year-old man has been crushed to death after a piece of heavy equipment fell on him at a southwest Ohio factory. Authorities say Douglas Mescher, of Lebanon, was killed Tuesday at Walther Engineering and Manufacturing, a vehicle parts maker in Franklin where Mescher worked as a subcontractor. Franklin is about 35 miles (56 kilometers) northeast of downtown Cincinnati.
Hardee officer killed in crash with deputy returning home from helping at evacuation shelter
HARDEE COUNTY, Fla – A Hardee County Sheriff’s Office deputy who had been helping at an evacuation shelter was killed on her way home to pick up supplies for the shelter. Hardee County Sheriff Arnold Lanier said Julie Bridges was a 13-year veteran of the sheriff’s office. The crash happened Sunday morning at the intersection of State Route 66 and Old Trueswald Road. The person in the other car was also killed. That person was a department of corrections officer.
Wayzata Police Officer Killed While Removing Road Debris
Wayzata, MN — Authorities say a Wayzata police officer was struck and killed while trying to remove debris from a highway. The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office says Officer William Mathews had pulled over to the side of eastbound Highway 12 about 12:30 p.m. Friday when he was struck by a car. The 47-year-old Mathews was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Missing hotel worker found dead in Harvey-flooded basement
Houston, TX — With Harvey’s floodwaters rapidly flowing into the Houston hotel where she worked, Jill Renick reportedly made a frantic cellphone call to a fellow employee: “I’m in an elevator. The water is rushing in. Please help me! Those words were among the few clues Renick’s family and friends had to go on for a week and a half, when repeated searches of the Omni Houston Hotel failed to turn up any sign of her and desperate calls to shelters and hospitals were similarly fruitless. Worst fears were confirmed with the discovery of a body in the ceiling of the hotel basement near elevators Thursday, and police say they believe it to be that of the 48-year-old Renick.
4 dead in Duke Life Flight helicopter crash in eastern NC
BELVIDERE, North Carolina (WTVD) — The North Carolina Highway Patrol said four people are dead in a Duke Life Flight helicopter crash in Perquimans County near Belvidere in eastern North Carolina. Authorities said the helicopter was flying to Duke Medical Center from Sentara Albemarle Medical Center when it crashed. Duke University Hospital President Kevin Sowers said they are mourning the loss of two staff nurses, a pilot, and a patient. The Duke employees have been identified as R.N. flight nurses Kris Harrison and Crystal Sollinger and pilot Jeff Burke.
Killer guns down South Gate auto body repair worker, escapes in waiting SUV
South Gate, CA — Authorities Saturday are looking for the suspect who fatally shot a 34-year-old man inside a South Gate auto body repair shop. The shooting victim was later identified as Donal Cervantes Ruano, of Los Angeles, said Lt. David Smith of the coroner’s office. The shooting was reported at 3:08 p.m. Friday nn the 4900 block of Mason Street, according to Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, which sent homicide detectives to assist South Gate police with the investigation. Ruano was an employee at the shop who was working when he was gunned down, authorities said.
Worker killed at Kansas oil refinery as OSHA conceals data on workplace deaths
El Dorado, KS — An oil worker was killed on Tuesday in a fire at the reformer unit of the HollyFrontier oil refinery in El Dorado, Kansas. The worker was a member of the United Steelworkers union (USW). Neither the worker’s name nor age has been released. The fire ignited after a furnace blew out and the worker died from injuries suffered from being caught in the fire. It is unclear what caused the blowout. Lynne Hancock, spokesperson for the USW’s oil sector, said through an email that “Our union is working with OSHA to investigate this incident and find the root cause(s) so it does not happen again.”
Florida man falls to death installing storm shutters ahead of Hurricane Irma
Palm Beach, FL — A man who fell while installing storm shutters on the second story of a Florida home marks the first Hurricane Irma-related death in the United States, according to authorities. Davie police said the 57-year-old man fell off a ladder Thursday while working on the windows of a Shenandoah home. Neighbors in the area told Local 10 the man and his nephew were hoping to make some extra cash by installing the shutters ahead of Hurricane Irma’s landfall in Southern Florida. Police said the unidentified man fell from the second story and hit his head on the pool deck. He was taken to Broward Health Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.
Ohio truck driver killed after early morning construction zone crash in Clinton County
CLINTON COUNTY, Ind. – An Ohio truck driver died after an early morning crash on I-65 in Clinton County. According to Indiana State Police, the three-vehicle crash happened around 1 a.m. Thursday in a construction zone on northbound I-65 just north of the State Road 28/158 exit. State police said a Freightliner truck driven by Eric L. Woudema, 44, Rensselaer, Ind., was pulling an actuator with a lighted arrow board directing traffic into the left lane. The truck was partially blocking the right lane as a result. Police said a semi truck driven by David K. King, 56, Milford, Ohio, failed to slow down and hit the left rear of the actuator, sideswiping the Freightliner, pickup truck and trailer. The semi went off the right side of the road and rolled onto its left side. The Clinton County coroner pronounced King dead at the scene.
Victim identified in I-80 rest stop shooting
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The Iowa County Sheriff’s Office has released the identity of a truck driver killed in a shooting at a rest stop along Interstate 80 in Iowa. The shooting happened early Wednesday at the rest stop in Iowa County, about 40 miles west of Iowa City. Earnest Kummer, age 60, of Monroe, Iowa, was killed in the shooting.
Middletown teen identified as worker killed at Six Flags Great Adventure
Driver hit, killed by own street sweeper in Gwinnett
Atlanta, GA — A driver was hit and killed by his own street sweeper early Thursday in Gwinnett County, officials said. A witness told Channel 2 Action News the driver, identified by the Gwinnett medical examiner as 47-year-old Orlando Hall, had equipment issues and pulled into a QuikTrip on Pleasant Hill Road and Club Drive. Hall, of Dallas, Ga., was trying to loosen debris when he became pinned between the hydraulic arm and the hopper of the truck, the news station reported. Investigators believe Hall was attempting to identify or correct a mechanical issue at the time of the incident.
Barrickman was driving tractor while on the job
OSHA investigating roofer’s fatal fall from building in Ashburn
Ashburn, IL — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the death of a worker who fell from the roof of a building Wednesday afternoon in the Southwest Side Ashburn neighborhood. Martin Hrdlicka, 42, appears to have accidentally fallen from the roof about 1 p.m. in the 2800 block of West Columbus Avenue, according to Chicago Police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office. A coworker found him lying on the ground, tried to provide first aid, then called 911. Hrdlicka, who worked for a roofing company called STA Enterprises Inc., fell about 35 feet while performing roof repairs, according to OSHA spokesman Scott Allen. The company was hired by the building’s owner, and crews had been working at the site for two to three weeks.“OSHA found no evidence of fall protection in place at the site,” Allen said Thursday morning. “OSHA has opened an investigation with STA Enterprises.”
Body of city worker who went missing during Harvey recovered, family says
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — The remains of a City of Houston worker who went missing during Hurricane Harvey have been located, family members confirm. Joseph Dowell worked as a temporary employee in the public works fleet department. He was on his way into work during the height of Harvey when his route started to flood, according to family members.
Construction worker killed by bulldozer ID’d
NORTHEAST PHILADELPHIA, PA — A bulldozer struck and killed a man at a construction site in Northeast Philadelphia, police say. It happened at 6:15 a.m. Thursday in the 5100 block of Pennypack Street. Fire department crews responded to a report of a construction worker struck by a bulldozer being operated by another employee. The victim has been identified as Barry Jones of Upper Darby, Pa.
Highway Worker Struck And Killed In Franconia: Authorities
FRANCONIA TOWNSHIP, PA — Two workers were struck by a vehicle late Tuesday while painting lines on the road near a Montgomery County elementary school. One has since passed away, authorities confirmed. The incident occurred sometime around 2:30 p.m. near West Broad Street Elementary School in Franconia, police said. The two victims were employees with the township’s Highway Department and were painting lines on West Broad Street at Lion’s Gate Circle when they were struck. One victim (David Smith, 53, of Telford) was killed and the other was severely injured, according to 6ABC.
York man, volunteer firefighter, dies after work-related fall in Maryland
Laurel, MD — State occupational safety officials in Maryland are investigating the death last week of a York man who fell from a roof. Devin Lee Smith, 30, was working on the roof of an apartment on Friday, Sept. 1 around 7:45 a.m., according to Laurel (Maryland) Police Chief Richard McLaughlin. There were several other workers on the roof at the time of the fall, the chief said. Smith was not using any safety equipment or harnesses at the time, according to McLaughlin.
THREE MEXICAN NATIONALS DIE IN TEXAS RESCUE EFFORTS
Houston, Texas — Three Mexican nationals that set out to volunteer in the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in Texas, have died. Three of the volunteer rescue workers died in Houston after losing control of a boat they were in. The three men died when their boat collided with a high-voltage pole of cables. A fourth volunteer remains missing. Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto used his Twitter account to express his condolences and praise the humanitarian work they carried out. Aid workers from the Mexican Red Cross were sent from Mexico last week to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
Tennessee man killed while working Harvey repairs
Victoria, TX – A Tennessee man was killed while working on Harvey repairs in Texas. Nashville CBS affiliate WTVF reports that lineman Lachlan Brain was killed on the job in Victoria, Texas. The Franklin County man was working with T&D Solutions making repairs from hurricane Harvey, according to Joseph Branco of PowerTeam Services. Branco said, “PowerTeam’s thoughts and prayers go out to to Brain’s family and friends during this difficult time.” An investigation was launched Tuesday night.
Worker Killed in Fall From Scissor Lift
Woodland, WA — Petrolino Carrillo was assigned to clean freezer doors at Columbia Fruit to clear ice and address frost build-up on piping. Carrillo was working from a scissor lift approximately 24 ft. in the air and was using a squeegee to clear frost on piping above the door area. Another employee was cleaning ice off of the floor from the floor level. That employee reported that he heard something, turned to look and saw the Carillo lying on the ground. [Source: Washington Dept. of Labor and Industries]
Hurricane Harvey: Body Of Volunteer Rescue Worker, DACA Recipient, Pulled From Texas Creek
HOUSTON, TX — The body of a rescue worker pulled from Cypress Creek on Sunday was identified as a Lufkin, Texas, native—who happened to be a DACA recipient—whose first instinct was to help save flood victims despite his family’s fears over his safety. Alonso Guillen, 31, was a disc jockey from Lufkin, the Houston Chronicle reported. His body was recovered four days after Hurricane Harvey-fueled flooding slammed his rescue boat against an Interstate frontage road bridge.
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