OSHA cites contractor for Aspen drilling death
ASPEN – A general contractor faces fines of $11,675 in connection with the death of a man in an Aspen drilling accident in August, according to a report issued Tuesday.
The Denver area office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued three citations against Hayward Baker Geotechnical Construction, which was in charge of the reinforcement work on the retaining walls on the backside of the Le Chamonix condominium complex at 1501 Maroon Creek Road, across from Aspen Highlands ski area.
On Aug. 11, Greg Watson, 39, of Minneapolis, was killed after his safety cord became tangled around the pole of a rock-drilling machine at the construction site.
Officials and witnesses at the time said that Watson was attempting to fix the horizontal rock-drill before the accident happened. The drill was not working at the time, but when it turned on the man’s fall-prevention cord caught in the drill’s poll, twisting him around and mangling his body. The drill remained on for up to a minute, as workers could not shut it down until the generator that powered it, which was located some 30 to 40 yards away, was turned off.
One of OSHA’s citations against Hayward Baker says the firm failed to have adequate safety conditions at the work site. The citation, which carries a fine of $7,000, says that Hayward Baker “had not developed and implemented safe work procedures for troubleshooting and repairing an improperly working Geotechnical drill. Among other things, employees engaged in troubleshooting and/or repair work should have been required to shut down the rig when the work could feasibly be performed while the rig was shut down, and the employer should have ensured that all persons were out of the zone of danger when the rig was restarted.
“As a result of the failure to develop and implement safe work procedures for such work, an employee was fatally injured after becoming entangled with the drill steel that unexpectedly began rotating.”
Hayward Baker committed the second serious violation because Watson’s fall-prevention cord was not functioning properly because the lifeline was not capable of locking in both directions. That violation carries a fine of $4,675.
The third violation falls under the “other-than-serious-category,” and comes without a fine. The violation concerns OSHA’s finding that the lifelines “were not protected against being cut or abraded.”
OSHA launched its investigation the day after the fatality. Federal law requires that work-related deaths be reported to the OSHA.
OSHA area director Herb Gibson said Tuesday that case against Hayward Baker remains open. The firm has 15 working days to contest the citations, he said, noting that it has “been cooperative.”
OSHA has also given Hayward Baker directives to remedy the problems that caused the death and provide OSHA with documentation indicating abatement.
Hayward Baker is a national firm that has an office in Broomfield, Colo. Officials at the firm could not be reached for immediate comment Tuesday.
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In the 1960s The Red Onion as the Aspen Ski Club would host an annual ski fashion preview, which in addition to clothing also included live music and a strip auction.