Cement manufacturer fined $62,500 after worker drown in Mississippi River

Aug. 21, 2023
The investigation determined that the cement manufacturer failed to provide proper protection, including floatation devices, when employees were susceptible to drowning hazards.

An OSHA investigation has determined that Buzzi Unicem USA, which operates as River Cement Sales Co., could have prevented the drowning of one of its employees earlier this year. The incident occurred when three workers boarded a barge without wearing personal floatation devices. While attempting to repair a blocked valve, one employee fell over the side of the barge, landing headfirst into the Mississippi River. The investigation determined that the cement manufacturer failed to provide proper protection, including floatation devices, when employees were susceptible to drowning hazards. In addition, there were no guardrails to prevent workers from falling overboard, there was no first aid training, and there was no eyewash station. For the five serious violations, the company faces penalties of $62,500.

In a recent quote, OSHA Area Office Director Courtney Bohannon said, “Buzzi Unicem USA could have prevented this tragedy by making sure employees wore the personal protective equipment that was readily available. Employers have a legal responsibility to provide employees with a safe and healthy workplace. This employer’s failures cost a worker his life and leaves family, friends, and loved ones with an unfillable void in their own lives.”

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