The Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Wednesday announced it had cited an Arkansas contractor over the deaths of two workers in June.
Federal investigators determined that Belt Construction Inc. of Texarkana failed to test oxygen levels in a sewer 20 feet below ground at a work site in Edmond, Oklahoma. When the first worker lost consciousness, the second entered the manhole to help and also lost consciousness. Both died because of a lack of oxygen, the agency reported.
OSHA cited the company for six serious and two willful violations and proposed $287,150 in penalties.
OSHA said that Belt Construction didn't follow rules requiring safety testing of confined spaces. Those rules include finding out if ventilation is needed. The company also failed to provide rescue equipment and did not train workers on confined space entry procedures or obtain permits required by federal law, according to the agency.
Belt Construction is a family-owned company that provides tunneling, boring and concrete work as well as large diameter water and wastewater pipe construction for aging water and wastewater infrastructure in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.
OSHA said the company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.