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OSHA News Release
Region 7

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Sept. 25, 2014

Worker loses life after being struck-by an excavator bucket at construction site
OSHA cites Van Kirk Sand and Gravel for 2 serious violations after fatal incident

HOLDREGE, Neb. – Two workers were injured, one fatally, after being struck-by an excavator bucket while installing stormwater drainage in a trench at the intersection of 18th and Grant Streets in Holdrege on July 17, 2014. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Van Kirk Sand and Gravel, which operates as Van Kirk Brothers Contracting, for two serious safety violations related to the incident.

OSHA's inspection found that one of the employees sustained puncture wounds from the bucket after it disconnected from the excavator and rolled into the trench from a height of about 4 feet. He died from his injuries later that day. The second employee suffered contusions and abrasions in the incident and has since returned to work.

"No one should lose their life on the job. Tragedies like this are preventable, if companies choose to protect their employees from known hazards," said Bonita Winingham, OSHA's area director in Omaha. "Employers have a responsibility to protect their employees, and Van Kirk Sand fundamentally failed to do that."

The company was cited for failing to train workers in the recognition of unsafe conditions and to teach them how to access emergency medical services from a job site. It took the rescue squad more than 11 minutes to arrive on scene.

OSHA has proposed fines of $14,000 for the two serious violations. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known existed.

The Sutton-based company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & 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 Omaha Area Office at 402-553-0171.

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

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Media Contacts:

Scott Allen, 312-353-6976,
Rhonda Burke, 312-353-6976,

Release Number: 14-1726-KAN

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