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Indiana County paving contractor could be fined in fatal accident

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
 

An Indiana County paving contractor could be fined $23,800 for 17 alleged safety violations in connection with an Oct. 18 accident that killed a worker.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Monday announced the citations and penalties against K. Dolan Construction Corp. of Blairsville stemming from the accident that killed employee Edward M. Ulicne, 45, of Derry Township.

Federal investigators said Ulicne and a foreman, who was not identified, were inspecting the inside of a large vacuum tank on a large tanker truck when the accident occurred.

“Operating the hydraulic controls to the rear door of the tank, the foreman closed the rear door, pinning Ulicne between the door and the frame of the truck,” OSHA reported.

Ulicne was taken to UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh, where he died four days later from multiple injuries.

After the accident, OSHA inspected the company's facility, where it found 17 safety violations.

Nine of those were considered serious violations, it said.

“This was a terrible, preventable tragedy that underscores the importance of following OSHA's standards to control hazardous energy (the unexpected startup of equipment) by implementing a lockout program to protect workers who service or maintain machines,” said Christopher Robinson, director of OSHA's Pittsburgh area office.

“Employees must ensure that workers are protected from hazards and that procedures are in place to prevent such a senseless injury or death,” Robinson said.

An employee of the firm, who declined to identify himself, said on Monday that the company would have no comment.

The serious violations include alleged failure to establish a lockout/tagout program and procedures to protect workers from moving parts of a machine during servicing; properly guard floor holes; evaluate the vacuum truck to determine if a permit is required before an employee enters the confined space; properly train employees expected to use a portable fire extinguisher; train employees on the safe operation of an industrial forklift, and properly anchor a pedestal drill press to the floor.

A serious violation occurs when there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard, according to OSHA.

OSHA said eight additional violations included the employer's failure to report the death of a worker, the workplace not being evaluated to determine if hazards were present or required the use of protective equipment, and the continued use of a defective forklift not in safe operating condition.

K. Dolan Construction Corp. has 15 days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director in Pittsburgh or contest the citations and penalties before the independent OSHA Review Commission.

Paul Peirce is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860or ppeirce@tribweb.com.

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