Marvis L. Myers, 31, suffered fatal traumatic injuries on Friday, February 6, 2015 while working for the City of Columbia, SC. WISTV reports:
- The incident occurred at a construction site on Pulaski Street near College Street.
- The victim was underground “working on pipe repairs when a cave-in occurred.”
- He was “6 to 8 feet below ground level”
- The incident happened about 11:40 am local time.
The incident is being investigated by South Carolina OSHA (SC-OSHA). The agency is in one of the 25 states that operates its own federally-approved occupational health and safety program. The approval of these programs, among other things, is contingent on providing the agencies’ protections to their respective state and local government employees. About 2 percent of SC-OSHA’s inspections involve public sector workplaces.
SC-OSHA will be examining the circumstances the led to Mr. Marvis L. Myers’ death, including why the excavated area in which he was working was not properly shored-up to prevent a cave-in. The City of Columbia may receive citations and penalties for violations identified by SC-OSHA. The most recent SC-OSHA inspections in the city occurred in March 2012 following injuries suffered by a firefighter. No citations were issued.
About 8 million state and local public sector employees are not covered by OSHA. They are employed in states were federal OSHA has regulatory authority over private sector workplaces, but no authority over public sector ones. When a public sector employee is killed on-the-job in one of these states, there is no OSHA inspection.
Each year, about 70 workers are killed on the job in South Carolina. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 72 work-related fatal injuries in South Carolina during 2013 (preliminary data, most recent available.) Nationwide, at least 4,405 workers suffered fatal traumatic injuries in 2013. The AFL-CIO’s annual Death on the Job report notes:
- SC-OSHA has 24 inspectors to cover more than 101,000 workplaces.
- The average penalty for a serious violation in South Carolina is $492.
SC-OSHA has until the early July 2015 to issue any citations and penalties related to the incident that stole Marvis L. Myers’ life. It’s likely they’ll determine that Myers’ death was preventable. It was no “accident.”