Working in confined spaces can produce some of the most hazardous circumstances on Oklahoma jobsites. Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes specific safety regulations to protect against workplace injury in such conditions, not all employers make comply. A construction worker in another state recently died within the confines of a 24-inch diameter pipe.
Reportedly, the incident occurred shortly after 6 p.m. on a recent Wednesday while a 22-year-old contractor's employee was lining a sewer pipe to stop leaks. The fire chief reports that the worker was trapped by the collapsed lining, approximately 25 feet into the horizontal sewer line. Rescuers who specialize in dealing with confined space emergencies had to be brought in to cut away the pipe and the liner to reach the worker.
Although it was regarded as a rescue throughout, it turned out to be a retrieval because the worker had died before rescuers could reach him about four hours later. Compliance officers with OSHA reported to the site to investigate this tragic incident. The safety agency said the construction company had been cited for a variety of safety violations in the past.
Any family in Oklahoma who is in a similar situation may struggle to cope with the unanticipated financial burden brought about by a loved one's death after a fatal workplace injury. Help is available from the workers' compensation system for the state. Surviving family members may file claims for death benefits, which will cover the expenses related to end-of-life arrangements along with a financial package to make up for lost wages.
Source: Chicago Tribune, "OSHA probing death of worker from Gurnee who was stuck in sewer pipe in Streamwood", Elyssa Cherney, John Keilman, Frank S. Abderholden, Oct. 26, 2017