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Contractor to pay fines in worker’s death

Maryland contractor R.F. Warder Inc., was fined $275,000 in the June death of a 19-year-old worker in a sewage trench at Clifton Park in Baltimore.

Kyle Hancock of Glen Burnie, Maryland, died while working in a 15-foot trench attempting to clear a line leading from a city pool. The trench collapsed on him.

The Maryland Occupational Safety and Health agency said the company failed to:

  • Adequately train its crew
  • Conduct adequate daily inspection of the site
  • Provide protective helmets
  • Provide escape ladders or ramps
  • Provide a system to protect against cave-ins

Part of a city contract

The city awarded R.F. Warder a contract to clear the line prior to the pool’s opening later in the month. Trenches more than five feet deep require shoring to protect workers from cave-in. Construction companies must also provide protective walls and sloped exits.

The trench in which Hancock died was 15 to 18 feet deep and 10 to 40 feet wide, the state claims.

Two other workers were rescued during the incident. Workers spent more than 10 hours digging with hand shovels more than 20 feet down to retrieve Hancock’s body.

Several of the eight violations brought against Warder were considered “willful,” which means the employer acted with indifference to employee safety or knowingly failed to follow safety rules.

A report by the Baltimore Sun states that a cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as 3,000 pounds. It reported that dozens of workers are killed in excavation deaths each year in the U.S.

A career in construction

Kyle Hancock was a member of the local steamfitters union and was working toward a career in heating, ventilation and air conditioning, according to a funeral notice on Singleton Funeral and Cremation Services’ website.

Although the fire department listed Hancock’s age as 19, the funeral home said he was 20 years old. The funeral notice said he graduated from North County High School in 2016, liked to play Xbox, had a group of close friends and liked to spend time with his dog, Max.

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