This morning, I read MSHA’s fatality report for the April 7 electrocution death of Tadd M. Bainum, 36.Â Mr. Bainum was a supervisor, and was doing electrical-related work, but had NOT received appropriate training in electrical tasks.Â 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,Â Holly, 6 and Lacy, 3.Â
At first glance, theÂ dredgingÂ pits where Mr. Bainum diedÂ sounds like a typicalÂ mom-and-pop operation. From MSHA’s report
“…normally operated one, 10-hour shift a day, five days per week.Â Total employment was five persons,”
but on closer look up the corporate food-chain, Hallett Materials is operated by OMG Midwest, Inc.,Â a division of Oldcastle MaterialsÂ ($7.4 billion revenues, 2008), which is part of the international conglomerate CRH, operating in 35 countries.Â
CHR’s revenues in 2008 were $20.9 Billion (Euro), aboutÂ $29.7 Billion (US).Â A quick look using MSHA’s on-line data systemÂ indicates the CHR has more than 350 sites across the U.S. in 41 different States.Â That’s no mom-and-pop operation.Â There’sÂ no excuse for the company’s failure to provide appropriate training for workers employed around WATER and ELECTRICITY.Â Â
MSHA issuedÂ two contributory citations related to inadequate training and lockout/tagoutÂ procedures.Â Â TheÂ MSHA’s reportÂ indicates thatÂ the mineÂ operator established a new policy:
“requiring that only authorized and qualified electricians conduct electricalÂ work where voltages exceed 480 volts.”
What MSHA’s report doesn’t say is whether thisÂ new policyÂ 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.Â How many other Hallett/Oldcastle/CRH employees and supervisors are performing dangerous and potentially deadly tasks without appropriate training?Â Â I’m tired of reading fatality investigation reports withÂ “corrective action” is only mine-specific rather thanÂ controlling company wide.Â Â
Following the fatality investigation, MSHA issued five citations (non-contributory) forÂ other electrical andÂ safety hazards.Â The monetary penalties were $100 each (except one wasÂ $176.)Â Â MSHA has the authority to assess much more significant penalties, and should do so for the two remainingÂ contributory violations.
AÂ death notice about TaddÂ M. Bainum, 36Â published in the Creston News Advertiser,Â said
“He could talk to anyone about anything.Â Tadd loved to tell ‘stories’ with lots of expression and sound effects.”
“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 respectÂ andÂ makes signficant corporate-wide safety improvementsÂ Â If not, MSHA should compel themÂ to do so.Â
*Miners at the Hallett North Des Moines plan are represented by Operating Engineers, Local 230.