University, fire department fined in sinkhole death
South Carolinaâ€™s state Department of Labor and Licensing Regulation said Wednesday that it fined the school $3,600 for two safety violations â€” one for failure to report the fatality of an employee within eight hours, and one for workplace safety violations unrelated to the sinkhole.
The Anderson City Fire Department was fined $5,000, though that amount was negotiated down to $400 and an agreement to retrain all firefighters.
The fire department was the lead recovery agency in the April 5 accident that killed a 35-year-old Southern Wesleyan maintenance worker, who died after stepping into a large sinkhole near the university. According to the state's report, the worker died from a lack of oxygen shortly after falling into the 25-foot-deep hole. No one was faulted for the death.
According to the OSHA citation, the fire department was fined for sending one of its rescue workers into the ground without testing the air first. Chief Jack Abraham said that OSHA designated the event as a confined space rescue, but at the time of the incident his crews believed it was an excavation rescue. The two events have different OSHA procedures set for them, Abraham said.