This morning, I read MSHA’s fatality report for the April 7 electrocution death of Tadd M. Bainum, 36.  Mr. Bainum was a supervisor, and was doing electrical-related work, but had NOT received appropriate training in electrical tasks.  MSHA’s investigators noted:

“Failure to train [him] in performing the task constituted more than ordinary negligence and is an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory safety standard.”

Mr. Bainum’s work-related death left behind his wife April and three children, Tristan, 12,  Holly, 6 and Lacy, 3. 

At first glance, the dredging pits where Mr. Bainum died sounds like a typical mom-and-pop operation. From MSHA’s report

“…normally operated one, 10-hour shift a day, five days per week.  Total employment was five persons,”

but on closer look up the corporate food-chain, Hallett Materials is operated by OMG Midwest, Inc., a division of Oldcastle Materials ($7.4 billion revenues, 2008), which is part of the international conglomerate CRH, operating in 35 countries

CHR’s revenues in 2008 were $20.9 Billion (Euro), about $29.7 Billion (US).  A quick look using MSHA’s on-line data system indicates the CHR has more than 350 sites across the U.S. in 41 different States.  That’s no mom-and-pop operation.  There’s no excuse for the company’s failure to provide appropriate training for workers employed around WATER and ELECTRICITY.  

MSHA issued two contributory citations related to inadequate training and lockout/tagout procedures.   The MSHA’s report indicates that the mine operator established a new policy:

“requiring that only authorized and qualified electricians conduct electrical work where voltages exceed 480 volts.”

What MSHA’s report doesn’t say is whether this new policy extends up the corporate chain to the 31 other Hallett Material operations in Iowa and Texas, or the hundreds of other CRH-affiliated sites across the country.  How many other Hallett/Oldcastle/CRH employees and supervisors are performing dangerous and potentially deadly tasks without appropriate training?   I’m tired of reading fatality investigation reports with “corrective action” is only mine-specific rather than controlling company wide.   

Following the fatality investigation, MSHA issued five citations (non-contributory) for other electrical and safety hazards.  The monetary penalties were $100 each (except one was $176.)   MSHA has the authority to assess much more significant penalties, and should do so for the two remaining contributory violations.

death notice about Tadd M. Bainum, 36 published in the Creston News Advertiser, said

“He could talk to anyone about anything.  Tadd loved to tell ‘stories’ with lots of expression and sound effects.”

[Bittersweet smile] 

And,

“He treated his wife and parents with respect and that carried over to everybody around him.”

I hope Hallett/Oldcastle/CHR shows their current employees* similar respect and makes signficant corporate-wide safety improvements   If not, MSHA should compel them to do so. 

*Miners at the Hallett North Des Moines plan are represented by Operating Engineers, Local 230.

 

Comments

  1. #1 ms
    December 3, 2009

    I worked for one of OMG’s paving companies and if you put in 12 hours a day they wanted 16 hours of work crammed into the 12 hours.They push saftey but dont really enforce it,i am surprised that more people dont die on their work sites.

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