| Connect Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook
About | Subscribe | Advertise


Download our free e-book! Protecting and maintaining transmission pipeline

Paint and Coatings Industry News

Main News Page

Firm Upheld in Fatal Cell Phone Case

Thursday, October 25, 2012

More items for Health & Safety

Comment | More

If you are on your cell phone arguing with your spouse when you are supposed to be working, and you don’t see a big truck coming at you, is that your employer’s fault?

No, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission has ruled, in a decision that vacates just such a case against an Ohio highway contractor.

 Crews had just begun paving operations when the accident occurred.

 John R. Jurgensen Company

Crews had just begun paving operations when the accident occurred.

At issue was whether the John R. Jurgensen Company, of Cincinnati, was responsible for the death of an employee who was killed on a highway paving job when a subcontractor backed over him with a loaded dump truck.

3 Citations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration had issued three serious citations against Jurgensen in the fatal accident, which occurred shortly before 10 p.m. Sept. 24, 2010. The crew was working on a project to widen the State Route 4 Bypass under a contract with the Ohio Department of Transportation.

The truck was operated by an employee of Jerry Ritter Trucking, of Goshen, OH. (Ritter Trucking was cited for one “other than serious” violation related to “recording criteria” in the case, but no fines were issued.)

OSHA alleged that Jurgensen failed to maintain a safety program and failed to instruct employees in recognizing hazards. A third citation was withdrawn before the case went to a hearing. Each citation carried a $4,500 fine.

Serious citations involve life-threatening hazards about which an employer knew, or should have known.

Jurgensen has had no other OSHA violations over the last decade.

‘You Just Ran Over One of Our Guys’

The accident occurred on the first night of the project’s paving operation, the ruling said.

Jurgensen’s foreman had arranged for the trucks to enter the area via a side road that had been closed to public traffic before the work began. The trucks backed up along a designated route to a staging area, where they lined up to unload.

At some point, according to the ruling, one of the workers left the area where the crew was working and moved to a spot along the route designated for dump trucks. The trucks were equipped with balloon lights and working backup alarms, the investigation found.

One driver, however, backed over the worker who had left the work area. The driver said he thought he had rolled over a slab of asphalt until a Jurgensen employee “jumped on the side of the truck and said, ‘You just ran over one of our guys,’” according to the commission.

Night Work Dangers

At the appeal hearing, Jurgensen argued that it worked with two safety consultants to provide specialized safety training to its employees for night work.

 The dump truck had a balloon-type illumination, and the backup alarm was operating, the investigation showed.


The dump truck had a balloon-type illumination, and the backup alarm was operating, the investigation showed.

One safety training session was provided seven months before the accident, and the victim had attended it, the company’s records and sign-in sheets showed. The session focused on “Hazcom/Hazard Awareness, Night Work,” the records showed.

The training module details night hazards, including appropriate conduct around equipment.

“Basically we try to preach brother’s keep out there at night shift,” the company’s safety manager testified.

The commission agreed.

“The record establishes Jurgensen had implemented and communicated work rules designed to prevent employees from being struck by vehicles traveling in reverse through the work zone,” the ruling said.

“Specifically, Jurgensen trained its employees to stay in their assigned work areas, to know the traffic control plan, and to stay clear of vehicle and equipment paths.”

Prohibited Phone Call

On the second count, OSHA accused the contractor of having failed to train the victim in safely marking the pavement where the trucks were to back up.

The company contended, though, that the victim was not marking pavement at all but had “left his assigned work area to use his cell phone to call his wife, with whom he was fighting.”

The ruling added: “Jurgensen had implemented a strict policy forbidding the use of cell phones during work.”

The victim’s cell phone records showed that he placed a call at 9:36 p.m. that night and that the call terminated eight minutes later—about the same time as the accident.

“While it is unknown whether the decedent was struck while he was using his cell phone or a few minutes after he ended the call,” the ruling said, “the record supports Jurgensen’s theory that the decedent had left his assigned work area in order to place a prohibited call without being seen.”


Tagged categories: Accidents; Construction; Health and safety; Labor; Roads/Highways; Transportation

Comment from Greg Szanyi, (10/26/2012, 7:41 AM)

Once again the facts have shown that worker error and not a company deficency cause this fatal accident. Cell phone use and text messaging are causing more accidents and deaths than DUI.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (10/26/2012, 8:41 AM)

Certainly looks like it this time.

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

Clemco Industries Corp.
Powerful Protection in a Small Package

Mounts inside blast helmet, alerts operator to dangerous breathing-air condition by audible, visual, and vibratory alarms. Easily calibrated, battery operated.


The Next Generation
of Blasting

• Lightest
• Coolest
• Most Comfortable
• Most Dependable

SSPC: The Society for Protective Coatings

Join SSPC and Enhance
Your Career !

CS Unitec
Work Cleaner and Safer

CS Unitec’s Vibro-Lo low-vibration scalers offer high performance for greater productivity & improved operator comfort. Optional dust shroud.

RPB Respiratory

With RPB Safety’s new Nova 3 Cassette Lens System which has been specifically designed to save you time and money! See the benefits for yourself now!

Novatek Corporation
Dustless Coatings Removal

Strip it, clean it, and profile it,
all dust free! High production
rates and Blast like finishes.
Comply with new lead

Blastox/The TDJ Group, Inc.
Blastox - One Step
Lead Abatement

Don't waste money on added labor steps with other methods. Don't mix, meter or apply at the job-site. Avoid strict hazardous waste rules.
Let your painters paint

Polyurethane and Polyurea Sprayed-On Protection

Buy POLYURETHANE or POLYUREA coatings and spray equipment for years of proven chemical resistance, water- and weather-proofing, and structural improvements.

Sidewinder/Persyst Enterprises, Inc.
The Sidewinder Model M2 Solvent Recycler

Combat the rising cost of gunwash, thinners, acetone & more while drastically reducing waste disposal coat.

CHLOR*RID International Inc.
Free Webinar

Learn about soluble salts, along with a discussion on allowable levels.
More information at,


Technology Publishing

The Technology Publishing Network

The Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings (JPCL) PaintSquare
Durability + Design Paint BidTracker

EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About   |   Privacy policy   |   Terms & conditions   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us

© Copyright 2000-2015, Technology Publishing / PaintSquare, All rights reserved
2100 Wharton Street, Suite 310, Pittsburgh PA 15203-1951; Tel 1-412-431-8300; Fax 1-412-431-5428; E-mail