A volunteer firefighter in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, lost his life last July responding to an explosion and fire that resulted from two utility contractors failing to establish the location of underground utilities prior to beginning excavation work.

That's the conclusion of an OSHA investigation, which found that the blast occurred when an underground gas line was struck by excavating equipment.

OSHA inspectors determined that neither Bear Communications LLC of Lawrence, Kansas or subcontractor V C Tech Inc. of Ypsilanti, Michigan contacted the underground utility owners or the local one-call system. Both companies were issued a serious safety violation, and face penalties of $12,934 each – the maximum penalty allowed.

“Excavators are required to train their employees on procedures for determining the location of underground utilities, and contact the utility company before opening an excavation,” said Madison Office Area Director Chad Greenwood.