The U.S. Labor Department is coming down with stiff penalties against a subsidiary of Voorhees-based American Water over an employee's death in 2011.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced it is charging the Creve Coeur, MO-based Missouri American Water Company with willful violations in connection with an accident where a saw kicked back and killed an employee in Joplin, MO, following a deadly tornado there in May 2011.
KOAM-TV reported on the accident last spring, and at the time indicated the employee, Robert Clark, died from an injury to his neck.
The charges carry a penalty totaling $140,000.
“Employers such as Missouri American Water have a responsibility to take all necessary steps to eliminate hazards from the workplace and to ensure that workers are given the proper equipment, tools and training to conduct required tasks,” said Charles E. Adkins, OSHA’s regional administrator in a news release. “It is tragic that an employee lost his life while performing valuable work to rebuild this devastated community.”
A company statement said it is "100 percent" committed to employee safety, but disagrees with OSHA's conclusion.
“Missouri American Water lost one of our own employees and we do not underestimate the impact it has on the family, our local employees and all those that work for our company, but we do not agree with the characterization described in the citations and plan to exercise our right to meet with OSHA to discuss them,” Missouri American President Frank Kartmann said.
American Water has regulated utility operations in 20 states, including New Jersey, and serves roughly 15 million people across 30 states and portions of Canada.