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Shipyard cited after towboat worker drowns in storm

Shipyard cited after towboat worker drowns in storm

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited a North Carolina shipyard after an employee drowned when a towboat capsized while operating in a winter storm.

Belhaven, North Carolina-based Belhaven Shipyard and Marina Inc., doing business as TowBoatUS River Forest, faces $11,640 in proposed penalties for three penalties labeled as serious, according to the citations from inspections that took place in January.

OSHA investigators determined that the company allowed employees to attempt to tow a vessel during a winter storm state of emergency that caused deteriorating weather and water conditions resulting in the towboat overturning and sinking, the agency said in a statement on Friday.

OSHA cited the company for failing to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards by allowing employees to attempt the tow during a declared state of emergency; not ensuring employees wore personal flotation devices; and exposing employees to drowning hazards by providing a flotation device not designed for use in freezing temperatures, according to the statement.

“This tragedy never should have happened,” Kim Morton, OSHA Raleigh, North Carolina area office director, said in the statement. “It could have been prevented if the employer had made worker safety a priority and heeded warnings of the state of emergency from an approaching storm.”

An official with TowBoatUS River Forest said Monday the issue is ongoing and would not comment. 





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