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Region 5 News Release: 12-2240-KAN
Nov. 8, 2012
Contact: Scott Allen      Rhonda Burke
Phone:         312-353-6976
Email: allen.scott@dol.gov    burke.rhonda@dol.gov

US Labor Department's OSHA cites Missouri American Water for safety
violations following worker's death on reconstruction site in Joplin

JOPLIN, Mo. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited utility company Missouri American Water for two willful safety violations following the May 16, 2012, death of a worker. The worker suffered fatal injuries when a gas-powered saw kicked back while he and another employee were cutting sections of old cast-iron pipe. The work was part of efforts to reroute underground water lines in a residential neighborhood being rebuilt following the EF5 tornado that struck Joplin on May 22, 2011.

"Employers such as Missouri American Water have a responsibility to take all necessary steps to eliminate hazards from the workplace and to ensure that workers are given the proper equipment, tools and training to conduct required tasks," said Charles E. Adkins, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. "It is tragic that an employee lost his life while performing valuable work to rebuild this devastated community."

The violations involve exposing workers to "struck-by" hazards while they were cutting water pipe by failing to provide support in accordance with manufacturers' instructions and company policies, and lack of training on pipe-cutting operations. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowledge or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Proposed penalties total $140,000. The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/MoAmWater_438331_1102_12.pdf*.

Missouri American Water employs approximately 800 workers statewide. The company is a subsidiary of Voorhees, N.J.-headquartered American Water, which operates utilities in more than 30 states and parts of Canada, and employs more than 7,000 workers nationwide.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director 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 Kansas City Area Office at 816-483-9531.

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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U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.


* Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.


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