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Wintermyer cited after investigation into deaths

January 29, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Lack of training on a piece of equipment, a part of which crushed and killed two Leon E. Wintermyer Inc. employees who were installing underground cables along U.S. 40 west of Hagerstown last summer, resulted in three Maryland Occupational Safety and Health violations and a fine, according to a MOSH investigation report.

Mark Andrew Goshorn, 25, of Blairs Mills, Pa., and Jamie L. Peterson, 29, of Spring Run, Pa., were working for Leon E. Wintermyer Inc. of Etters, Pa., on July 20, 2004, when they tried to move a rod box that weighed about 8,400 pounds. The rod box toppled and crushed them, according to the MOSH report received through a Maryland Public Information Act request.

Both men were pronounced dead at the scene of the 9:55 a.m. accident, Maryland State Police have said.

Martin Kline, MOSH industrial hygienist, said $10,500 in fines against Wintermyer were reduced to $6,300 at an informal MOSH conference. The company paid the fines on Dec. 11, he said.

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A call made to Bryan Grissinger, the Wintermyer job superintendent that day, was not returned Friday.

Linda Hadley, human resources manager for Wintermyer, did not return a call Friday.

In its reports about the three violations found in connection with the accident, MOSH said that "frequent and regular inspections of the job sites, materials and equipment were not made by a competent person(s) designated" by Wintermyer, the employer "permitted employees who were not qualified by training or experience to operate equipment and machinery" and the employer "did not instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe condition(s) and the regulation(s) applicable to his work environment to control or eliminate any hazard(s) or other exposure to illness or injury."

According to the report, Wintermyer employees were performing horizontal boring and installing underground fiber-optic cable conduit along the road that day. When employees approached a Vermeer D55x100 Navigator Horizontal Directional Drill to remove a rod box, which is hoisted on and off the directional drill by a boom truck, they did not follow the operator's manual's procedures for removing the rod box, which contained rods weighing about 270 pounds each, and two of the workers were killed, according to the report.

As part of the MOSH investigation, Grissinger, who said he helped remove the rod box, wrote his recollection of the events that day in an interview statement.

"There was no formal training on the drills from Wintermyer," he said.

When Grissinger was asked to describe in detail how to remove a rod box, he wrote: "I don't know the correct steps. This is the first time I've supervised the use of this equipment."

He said he had "no clue" whether the engine of the machine was running when the employees attempted to move the box, according to the report.

The MOSH investigator, in his report, said he found the operator's manual, which provided a "very simple six-step procedure for rod box removal," inside the drill operator's cab.

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