WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has released its findings in the investigation of a death in northwest Wichita at the construction site of the new water treatment facility.
The report says that at 9:30 a.m. on March 10, 2022, crews were attempting to hoist a 6-foot by 48-inch pipe using a crane. The pipe was secured using chains, chockers, and a spreader beam.
As the pipe was being lifted, a chain snapped, causing the spreader beam to swing loose. The beam then struck 55-year-old Manuel Esparza in the chest, killing him.
The investigation determined that the method being used to lift the pipe could not support the weight, which led to the chain breaking. Manuel Esparza’s employer, Utility Contractors, Inc. was cited for failing to keep the workplace free “from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.”
They were also cited for the equipment they used to attempt to hoist the pipe. Utility Contractors, Inc. has received a penalty of $13,880.
The City of Wichita issued the following statement to KSN:
“The loss of Mr. Manuel Esparza was a great tragedy. We thank OSHA for its investigation into this matter to ensure that the site of the northwest water treatment facility is safe and held to the highest regulatory standards. As you are aware, the employer cited by OSHA is Wichita Water Partners subcontractor UCI, not the City of Wichita. The City will continue to maintain oversight of the changes Wichita Water Partners has implemented and is satisfied that Wichita Water Partners has taken steps to ensure the safety of the site and the workers.”
You can read the report here.