February 19, 2015 Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH 0Comment

Norberto Romero, 49, suffered fatal traumatic injuries on Monday, February 16, 2015 while working at Thomas Concrete on Canton Road in Marrietta, GA. The Examiner reports

  • The incident occurred at about 3:05 pm “when someone called 911 to report that someone was trapped inside a concrete silo”
  • Firefighters worked “throughout the evening to free the man’s trapped body….[it] was recovered around 9 pm”

WXIA explains that Romero, 49, was one of

  • “two subcontractors from Texas [who] were cleaning the inside of the cement silo. …Romero attempted to unclog a ‘hopper’ in the silo, he fell into and there was a collapse. The second worker tried to help him and there was another collapse, burying Romero.”

The Marietta Daily-Journal offers information provided by a spokesperson with the Cobb County Fire Department:

  • “…the man worked for a company hired to clean the inside of the silo”
  • “…the silo was about 40 feet tall and about 20 feet across”
  • “…the sand and gravel mixture was so unstable that rescuers couldn’t safely get inside the silo. ‘We ended up having to basically dismantle the bottom of the silo where the drain was, or the hopper,’ said the spokesperson, ‘and that’s how we were able to recover the body.’”

I’ve been unable to determine yet the name of Mr. Romero’s employer. The silo in which he was working belongs to Thomas Concrete. The firm says

“we’re one of the largest producers in Georgia dedicated exclusively to ready mix concrete and we’ve expanded our operations in the Carolinas.”

In 2012, a Thomas Concrete plant in Raleigh, NC was cited by North Carolina OSHA (NC-OSHA) for numerous serious safety violations, including for hazards related to workers entering confined spaces. The agency proposed a penalty of $5,775. Through a formal settlement with NC-OSHA, the company paid a $525 penalty for two serious violations.

Each year, dozens of workers in Georgia are fatally injured on-the-job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 70 work-related fatal injuries in Georgia 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:

  • Federal OSHA has 49 inspectors in Georgia to cover more than 214,000 workplaces.
  • The average penalty for a serious OSHA violation in Georgia is $2,061.

Federal OSHA has until mid- August 2015 to issue any citations and penalties related to the incident that stole Norberto Romero’s life. It’s likely they’ll determine that Romero’s death was preventable. It was no “accident.”

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