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Masontown man ID'd as victim at plant

Mary Pickels
| Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2007

State police at Waynesburg, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Allegheny Energy Inc. officials are investigating the death of a bulldozer operator at the utility's Hatfield's Ferry Power Plant in Greene County.

Allegheny Energy spokesman David Neurohr confirmed Monday that Andrew Mehal, 52, of Masontown, Fayette County, died in the accident, which occurred at about noon Sunday.

Neurohr said the accident occurred in the coal-handling area of the Cumberland Township facility.

"He was a longtime employee," Neurohr said yesterday, declining further comment about Mehal.

According to state police, a search of the power plant was initiated after Mehal failed to take a lunch break. He was located inside the cab of the bulldozer he was operating, which had overturned.

Greene County Deputy Coroner Mary Ann Lewis said Mehal died of asphyxiation due to suffocation. He was pronounced dead at 6:30 p.m.

Leni Uddyback-Fortson, OSHA spokeswoman for the Department of Labor, said an OSHA investigation was initiated yesterday.

Inspectors will conduct interviews, review records and inspect equipment, she said.

"By law we have six months to complete our investigation and release the findings," she said.

"Generally (inspectors) are looking to see what happened and why and to see if any violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act occurred," Uddyback-Fortson said.

Violations could lead to citations and civil penalties against companies involved, she said.

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