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Alaska contractor fined $560,000 after worker dies during rescue attempt


An Alaska contractor is facing a $560,000 fine from state regulators after an employee died during a botched rescue attempt following a trench collapse.

The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development issued eight citations against Anchorage-based Hartman Construction & Equipment Inc. for its willful failure to adhere to safety standards, the department said Wednesday in a statement.

The citations and fines resulted from an investigation conducted after the death of 23-year-old employee Samuel Morgan, who was buried up to the waist when the trench collapsed, but was fatally injured when owner David Hartman and other employees tried to free him using two excavators, according to the statement.

The state medical examiner determined Mr. Morgan's injuries resulted from being struck by construction equipment, according to the department.

The investigation revealed numerous safety violations at the construction site, including the employer's failure to provide a safe workplace and adequate access and a way out of the trench, according to the statement. Other violations included a failure to protect employees from loose rock and soil and to use a protective system in the excavation, according to the department.

“My heart goes out to the family of Samuel Morgan,” Alaska Labor Commissioner Heidi Drygas said in the statement. “Every employer who has ever thought about cutting corners on safety should view this case as a severe warning that failure to provide the necessary and adequate protections for Alaska's workers will not be tolerated.”

Mr. Hartman could not be immediately reached for comment.

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