Robins contractor cited for safety violations; fined nearly $80,000

The U.S. Department of Labor cited ASM-Sanders Inc., an Alabama-based contractor that provides construction support for Robins Air Force Base, for worker safety violations after a March accident killed one worker. Jacky S. Brown died March 5 from a severe blow to the head after a chilled water pipe exploded.

According to the Department of Labor, Brown and his co-workers were testing a water pipe by filling it with compressed air, disregarding the manufacturer’s recommendation that the pipe instead be tested with liquids.

The company also was cited for employing workers in a 5-foot-6-inch trench without means of egression and without protection from a possible cave-in.

The latter was cited as a “willful violation” of employee safety and carried with it a $63,000 fine.

In total, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) hit ASM-Sanders with four safety violations and nearly $80,000 in fines.

A spokeswoman from ASM-Sanders refused to comment on the citation.

The company may appeal the fines to OSHA within 15 business days, though the company is ordered to correct the violations by today.

After Brown’s death, a former ASM-Sanders safety inspector told OSHA that he was ordered by his superiors to falsify safety reports. “I was told to keep quiet and that was the way we would handle all accidents,” Mike Hill said in the letter dated May 5, 2009.

Hill claims he was fired the day he faxed his letter to OSHA.

To contact writer Thomas L. Day, call 744-4489.