Contractor fined $68,700 Following Confined Space Death

A family tragedy could have been avoided if confined safety regulations had been followed, says the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which cited E.T. Mackenzie of Florida Inc. of Bradenton, Fla., for failing to provide a safe working environment following the death of an employee.

Miguel Paramo lost his life on March 29 when he tried to rescue his younger brother Fernando, who was only 17 years old, from a hazardous confined space at a sewer project for which E.T. Mackenzie was a subcontractor.

The two Paramo brothers, along with a third brother, Antonio, were working at the Mission Valley Master Lift Station at Laurel Road and Bayview Drive in Venice. Fernando, who was working in a 25-foot-deep manhole, was overcome by hazardous fumes, and Miguel entered the confined space to save him. Miguel apparently was able to pass his younger brother up to Antonio, thereby saving Fernando's life. Miguel, however, was then overcome by gas and was unable to climb out. Risking his own life, Antonio went into the hole and brought Miguel back up, but paramedics were unable to revive him and Miguel was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

OSHA fined the company, which was the subcontractor for two sewer projects, $49,000 for one willful violation of confined space standards for knowingly allowing workers to enter a confined space without proper training to recognize hazards and properly protect themselves. The company also was fined $19,700 for violations related to confined space safety and a lack of a fall protection system and defective ladders.

"This tragic series of events could have been avoided if all work had stopped as soon the high-pressure feed broke off the grinder pump," said Les Groves, OSHA's Tampa area office director. "If the employees had been properly trained, they would not have reentered the hazardous confined space."

Fernando and Antonio continue to work for E.T. Mackenzie, which has 15 days to contest the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Commission.

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