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OSHA Probes Tower Painter’s Death

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

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Federal inspectors are investigating the death of a painter who suffered a fatal fall from a water tower in the closing days of the project.

Winfred Davis, a 29-year-old father of two, was killed when he fell while working from the top of a water tower in Memorial Park in Mount Vernon, IA.

Details Unclear

The accident happened around about 1:54 p.m. Aug. 1. Davis was an employee of Arndt Enterprises Inc. of DeWitt, IA, a subcontractor completing work on the water tower for Utility Service Company Inc. of Perry, GA, according to a statement from the Mount Vernon Police Department.

Winfred Davis Memorial Park Iowa
Lemke Funeral Homes; First Presbyterian Church of Mount Vernon

Since Winfred Davis died in the fall from atop a water tower, members of the community have left tokens of their condolences in Memorial Park, where the tower is located.

Davis died from his injuries on the scene, Mount Vernon Police Chief Mark Winder told KCRG-TV9.

Winder told the local ABC affiliate that he was unsure how Davis fell, but he said the painter had been wearing a harness and other equipment.

Arndt Enterprises did not immediately respond Tuesday (Aug. 13) to a request for comment, and emails to the company were returned as undeliverable.

Work on the 500,000-gallon water tower was scheduled to start May 30; the project included inspection, cleaning and painting, according to the city's website.

"It is your worst nightmare. You always hate to have something like that happen," Winder told KCRG-TV9.

Investigation Status

The Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened an inspection into the accident Aug. 2. Iowa operates its own state OSHA program, which covers both private-sector and state and local government employees.

Mount Vernon Water Tower

Work on the water tower was nearly completed when Davis fell to his death while working for subcontractor Arndt Enterprises.

A spokesperson for Iowa OSHA said that the agency had up to six months to issue citations, and that fatality investigations normally take longer to complete.

Iowa OSHA was also unable to confirm whether the contractor, Utility Services, located in Perry, GA, was also a target of the investigation.

Arndt Enterprises provides water tower rehabilitation, petrochemical tank lining and exteriors work, tank maintenance and cleaning, industrial and floor coatings, and other services. Established in 2001, the company says it has worked on projects ranging from 50,000- to 5 million-gallon tanks.

The company had no enforcement record with OSHA before Aug. 2.

Atlanta, GA-headquartered Utility Service was the main contractor for the project. The company provides condition assessments, rehabilitation services and asset management solutions for the potable and industrial water industries. The company has no known OSHA record.


Tagged categories: Contractors; Fall protection; Fatalities; Health & Safety; Inspection; Maintenance coating work; OSHA; Subcontractors; Water Tanks

Comment from WAN MOHAMAD NOR WAN ABDUL RAHMAN, (8/14/2013, 5:11 AM)

Condolences the the family.

Comment from Mary Chollet, (8/14/2013, 4:18 PM)

PaintSquare News is attempting to verify Utility Service Company's record with OSHA. The agency said Wednesday that it could not immediately confirm the company's record, due to similarities between its name and those of many other companies. An OSHA spokesman said he could not confirm any prior fatalities related to the company.

Comment from Mary Chollet, (8/15/2013, 4:52 PM)

Editor’s Note: Two comments about the alleged safety record of Utility Services have been deactivated, as OSHA was unable to verify that information. The company’s attorney declined Thursday to comment on the accident.

Comment from Billy Russell, (8/15/2013, 7:25 PM)

Prayers to the Family, A young man lost his life, a brother in the Tank industry is gone and will be missed.

Comment from William Feliciano, (8/19/2013, 11:12 AM)

Two weeks after the accident, and there is so little information?? Article stated he was wearing his harness "and other equipment", when he fell. Then he either didn't tie off, or did but the support failed, etc. No coworkers as witnesses? Was he working alone? Ah, I know - investigations take time. I guess its natural for those of us in this industry to want to know as much as possible as soon as possible. It affects us all. I hope a good investigation is performed. Our deepest sympathy to his family and coworkers on their terrible loss.

Comment from Billy Russell, (8/20/2013, 1:30 PM)

The record is there, although it may be hidden behind the fact they are a contract broker that uses all Sub- contractors to do the work, Safety Training is minimal as to not assume any liability I know I was once one of those sub-contractors doing the job for less than 1/3 of the total contract price, got smart and got away from them. I after many years on a tank will assume he was on top not tied off wet paint and went to far out I have lost another Brother in the Tank Industry, My Prayers to his family. Allowing valuable information concerning Root Cause analysis hurt's us all we can prevent accidents but we have to discuss why and how they each happen, the guys in the field need to know please do not censor my post I am my Brothers Keeper.

Comment from Alfonso Gamboa, (9/11/2015, 9:13 AM)

This incident is just one of many associated with this prime contractor. The deaths will continue as long as municipal entities promote a race to the bottom in pricing where the only winners are the prime contactors. The business model of the prime contractor allows them to escape the responsibility and consequences involved with a fatality passing those onto the poorly equipped, inexperienced and untrained subcontractor. Unfortunately, this just one of many prime contractors who operate without moral and ethical standards.

Comment from Joe Crytser, (9/14/2015, 2:23 PM)

well said Alfonso. lowest bid on a prime is truely a race to the bottom and until those Primes are held responsible "$", more brothers and sisters will be hurt or even worse. Trained and responsible prime contractors, sub-contractors and lastly workers need to be on work of this nature. I too have seen many accidents involving sub-contractors that are related to this Prime contractor. condolences to the family

Comment from Joe Crytser, (9/14/2015, 2:26 PM)

let me add that it may take IIII (jail) to get through to some of these primes who have looked at the cost of a life compared to a successful bid award

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