OSHA Investigates Unrelated Deaths At Pier, Sub Base

Even OSHA's Hartford, Ct., office's area director is baffled by three unrelated deaths that occurred in the past month Adm. Harold E. Shear State Pier and the Naval Submarine Base last month.

"In my 28-plus years, I've never seen it before," Hartford Area Director Tom Guilmartin told theDay.com, a local news service. "I've seen multiple fatalities at the same time, but never this kind of coincidence."

On Jan. 13, a truck driver, Michael Ryckman, of Shelton, Wash., was killed when a load of plywood slid off a forklift and pinned him against his truck. OSHA plans to examine all the forklift trucks operated by Logistec Connecticut Inc., the company that owns the warehouses where Ryckman was unloading his truck.

About a week earlier, Michael Tondora, a pilot boat crewman from Ledyard, slipped between a boat and the dock and drowned in the Thames River. Tondora was not wearing a lifejacket at the time of his death, but Guilmartin noted that OSHA regulations requiring workers to wear lifejackets while performing work over water or on a moving boat do not apply when the boat is docked.

Guilmartin said it "wasn't practical" to say a lifejacket would have saved Tondora's life, since he wasn't required to be wearing one at the time he fell into the water.

The third death occurred In December, an employee with a construction contractor working on the submarine base died when he sustained head trauma following a fall off a floating platform. OSHA continues to investigate that case.

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