EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – An Arkansas construction company will face hefty fines following a tragedy at an Edmond construction site. The incident happened back in June when two workers were found dead inside a manhole near the intersection of Midwest and Covell.
The two men were conducting testing below ground when investigators said they passed out from a lack of oxygen. OSHA’s investigation showed that Belt Construction, Inc. in Texarkana, Arkansas had eight violations, six serious and two willful, that played a part in the workers’ deaths.
“We have standards that regulate this,” said Steven Kirby, area director for OSHA’s Oklahoma office. “There is no reason for an event like this to occur.”
According to the investigation report, Belt Construction did not test oxygen levels in the manhole. The company also did not have any rescue equipment on site in case of an accident. The workers were not wearing a rescue harness.
“That is sort of retrieval system and then some sort of winch device so that they can bring them out of the out of the space without making entry themselves,” said Kirby.
The report also said the construction company did not train its workers for “confined space procedures” and it did not get proper permits for the work, which is required by federal law.
Edmond fire and police were called out to the construction site, near the intersection of Midway and Covell, back on June 14. Emergency crews received 911 calls that came in stating two workers were unconscious down a manhole. Our McIntyre Law Chopper 4 flew over the scene as crews worked to figure out what was going on down below.
Deputy Chief Chris Denton confirmed on the scene the two workers died after detecting problems with a lack of oxygen.
“We were getting an oxygen deficient atmosphere,” said Denton.
The report, released Wednesday, made clear the two employees died due to a lack of oxygen and said Belt Construction failed to test those levels before going below. It also issued fines of $287,150. KFOR reached out to the company and its owner, Kyle Bass, but our emails were not returned.
OSHA investigated the incident for six months before presenting its findings in the report. The construction company has 15 business days to respond to the settlement investigation.