Loader Operator Dies Trying to Free a Stuck Truck, OSHA Cites Contractor

Gehring Construction faces penalties after a broken chain launches tow-rope hardware through the cab window and kills the loader operator trying to move a stuck mixer truck

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Gehring Construction & Ready Mix Concrete Inc., Columbus, Neb., is facing $14,630 in Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) penalties after an employee was killed when struck in the head by a metal tow rope connection while operating a front-end loader. 

An OSHA investigation of the fatality found the 26-year-old's death may have been avoided if the contractor had implemented procedures to protect the worker from struck-by hazards. OSHA has issued two serious and one other-than-serious safety violations.

Investigators found the front end loader was attempting to tow a concrete truck that had become struck in the sand. The front end loader was connected to the concrete mixer truck by a tow rope and chain. A link on the chain failed, causing the tow rope to snap back and the metal tow rope connection went through the window of the cab striking the employee. One serious violation cites the company under OSHA's general duty clause, for failing to provide a workplace free of hazards. 

Gehring Construction & Ready Mix Concrete also failed to properly train employees in towing methods, connecting techniques and the usage of appropriate towing components, resulting in a serious violation.

Additionally, the company was cited for not notifying OSHA of the death of the employee within eight hours following a work-related incident. OSHA was notified two-days after the incident.