May 12, 2015
U.S. Aqua Vac cited in death of diver in New Albany, Ohio, pond
Similar company failures led to death of diver in 2009
NEW ALBANY, Ohio - When a 23-year-old diver descended to the bottom of a New Albany pond in November 2014, he thought his air supply would last during underwater work. He drowned when his air supply depleted while SCUBA diving.
U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors reviewed the deadly 2014 incident. It found his employer, U.S. Aqua Vac Inc., failed to provide the worker with a reserve air tank, line-tending, and continuous visual contact. OSHA identified two willful, four repeated and 11 serious safety violations by the company. U.S. Aqua Vac was also placed in the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
"This man's family has been devastated by this preventable tragedy," said Deborah Zubaty, OSHA's area director in Columbus. "Without training and protective equipment, U.S. Aqua Vac's divers are put at risk. The company is responsible for the safety and well-being of its employees above and below the water."
Sadly, this wasn't the first diving fatality for U.S. Aqua Vac. In 2009, an employee died at work in a retention pond in Deerfield, Illinois.
Inspectors also found that U.S. Aqua Vac divers were not provided with two way communication devices, a guard at the end of a suction hose, a standby diver, and depth gauges for surface-supplied air. The company also failed to assess conditions before diving operations began and provide a safe practices manual. Similar violations were found by inspectors after the Deerfield tragedy in 2009. The company also did not train the New Albany dive team in CPR, pressure test hoses or maintain equipment. It also failed to provide a manual resuscitation mask, first-aid equipment or quick-release dive weight belts.
OSHA has proposed penalties of $223,454 for the company, which is based in Hebron, Indiana, and specializes in muck, sludge and silt removal from lakes and ponds across the nation.
To view current citations, visit
U.S. Aqua Vac has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Columbus, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Columbus Area Office at 614-469-5582.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
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