OSHA fines Rome business after employee falls to his death while unclogging sewage line

The federal government is fining a Rome, Ga. plumbing company after an employee fell to his death while working on a sewage line for them in July.

Robert Hall was killed while working at a high school in Floyd County on July 13. He fell 20 feet while working on a manhole and died after suffering internal organ damage, according to officials.

As previously reported by Channel 2′s Tom Jones, he was a father of four and would have been married in October had he not slipped and fallen into a maintenance hole.

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Floyd County police officials told Channel 2 Action News at the time that he was a plumbing contractor working at Armuchee High School when he fell.

The 34-year-old was on a ladder when he fell into the hole, according to officers. They said he lost consciousness and could not be revived.

Hall’s family told Channel 2 Action News officials said he had been in the hole for 45 minutes before help arrived, and wanted to know how that could happen.

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Now, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is fining his employer, K&D Plumbing, for safety issues that led to his death.

According to their inspection report, K&D Plumbing, of Rome, faces seven cited issues, totaling more than $180,000 in penalties.

OSHA listed the following safety violations and penalties:

  • No ladder, stairway or other safe means of getting out of trench excavations that were 4 feet or more in depth = $4,688

    • On July 12, 2023, at the 6-foot-deep by 60-foot-long trench, the employer exposed employees to a fall hazard, in that there was no ladder or other safe means of access and egress.

  • Employee was working in excavations where there was accumulated water or excavations in which water was accumulating and there were no precautions taken by employer = $4,688

    • On July 12, 2023, in the 6-foot-deep by 60-foot-long trench, the employer exposed employees to a cave-in hazard, in that the employer did not provide protections or controls for water accumulation.

  • Protection was not provided by employer to protect employee from falling debris or other materials = $4,688

    • On July 12, 2023, at the 6-foot-deep by 60-foot-long trench, the employer exposed employees to the hazard of being struck by soil or materials rolling back into trench, in that the employer did not ensure that excavated soil and uninstalled piping were stored at least two feet from the trench edge.

  • Employer did not conduct inspection of excavation prior to start of work = $4,688

    • On July 12, 2023, at the 6-foot-deep by 60-foot-long trench, the employer exposed employees to a cave-in hazard, in that the trench was not inspected by a competent person.

  • No protective cave-in system in place = $4,688

    • On July 12, 2023, at the 6-foot-deep by 60-foot-long trench, the employer exposed employees to a cave-in hazard, in that the trench did not have a protective system.

  • Pre-entry testing was not done = $4,688

    • On July 12, 2023, the employer exposed employees to hydrogen sulfide inhalation hazards, in that the employer did not conduct a test of the internal atmosphere of a manhole before employees were allowed to enter it to clear a blockage in a sewage pipe.

  • Employer did not develop and implement a written permit space entry program = $156,259

    • On July 12, 2023, the employer exposed employees to fall and hydrogen sulfide inhalation hazards, in that the employer did not develop and implement a written permit space entry program before employees were allowed to enter a manhole that was approximately 20 feet in depth to clear a blockage in a sewage pipe.

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