Federal Investigations Continue in Mississippi Jobsite Cave-ins

July 29, 2008

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Mississippi is continuing investigations into two separate jobsite cave-ins in March that led to the deaths of four workers.

Both cave-ins require up to six months to investigate, said Clyde Payne, Mississippi OSHA director.

On March 21, a trench collapse killed three American Air Specialists employees.

Leonardo Navarro Diaz, 30, of Sumrall; Brandon Edward Rathbone, 19, of Hattiesburg; and Wayne Dale Kelly, 55, of Columbia were connecting a sewer line in Hattiesburg when a trench collapsed, burying them under eight feet of clay and wet dirt.

In the second fatal accident, Tim Bright, 38, of Petal, an employee of Hattiesburg-based L&A Contracting Co. died March 22 of injuries he suffered in a March 13 ditch collapse at Lois Lane in Lamar County.

Officials said Bright and several construction workers had been working in a ditch, building a form to pour concrete on Lois Lane off Sandy Run Road when a ditch wall collapsed on him.

According to OSHA records, the two companies have been fined in the past.

L&A Contracting had a total of 18 violations and was fined $245,828 from 1999 to 2005, according to OSHA records. The company was fined $233,800 for 12 safety violations in 1999.

OSHA penalized American Air Specialists of Mississippi Inc. in 2003 for using hazardous materials — “boxes and barrels” — that could have caused a construction fall, according to an OSHA inspection document. It was classified as a serious violation. The company paid a $300 penalty. The incident occurred at the same work site where the three workers died.

Information from: Hattiesburg American,

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