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Workplace injury and death for sewer worker caught in storm

On behalf of of Frederick & Hagle posted in Workplace Injuries on Tuesday, September 24, 2013.

Storm water can be overpowering during a particularly torrential downpour. There are instances over the years of people being carried away in the unrelenting ravages of a storm water overflow. This can also lead to danger to sewer workers in Illinois. In fact, a sewer worker was carried away by rushing storm waters and drowned the evening of Sept. 18. Incredibly, his wife had to learn about the workplace injury and his death on Facebook.

The young man was an employee of Kenny Construction Co. for seven years. He was a father of three, and his wife said that his greatest fear was drowning in the sewers. She said he was a great father and a very hard worker.

The company did not call and tell her. Instead, she was put into shock by learning on the social media. Whenever an accidental workplace injury results in death, the surviving spouse in entitled to receive workers’ compensation death benefits, including medical expenses, funeral costs and lost wages benefits.

The employer was relining a sewer near Elston Avenue and Rockwell Street when heavy storms hit the area. The crew reportedly kept working underground as the sewer began filling with water. The deceased worker was lining the sewer with styrene plastic when he was swept away in a torrential flow.

A fire department diver entered the water and retrieved the body. The decedent was wearing a wetsuit but apparently had no breathing apparatus. The real puzzle, according to the Chicago Fire Department Special Operations Chief, was why the crew kept working after the rain started. That will likely be a primary inquiry when OSHA begins its investigation.

According to a CBS 2 reporter, OSHA will also look into whether the worker released his safety harness, which was rumored. According to OSHA, the employer has a history of various incidents where workers were injured or killed on the job dating back at least to the 1990’s. There are reported deaths of Kenny employees working on jobs in Illinois. There were several other instances of a workplace injury occurring to its workers in the state.

Source: CBS Chicago Channel 2, Sewer Worker???s Wife Learns About His Drowning On Facebook, No author, Sept. 18, 2013

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