US Department of Labor investigation of fatal equipment rollover incident finds Texas fencing contractor exposed workers to deadly safety hazards
LUBBOCK, TX – A federal workplace safety investigation into how a 15-year-old worker tragically suffered fatal injuries while installing fencing in Guthrie has found the employer failed to follow required workplace safety standards.
U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors went to the work site on July 6, 2022, and learned the teenager had been trapped under heavy equipment. They determined that Sheppard Farm and Ranch Services LLC of Robert Lee had illegally modified a Caterpillar loader and failed to provide adequate training or personal protective equipment, such as a hard hat, gloves and safety glasses. The company also did not report the workplace fatality within 8 hours after it occurred, another violation for which OSHA issued a citation.
“This tragic event cut short a worker’s life before they reached adulthood,” said OSHA Area Director Elizabeth Linda Routh in Lubbock, Texas. “This deadly incident might have been prevented had legally required standards – proven methods for protecting workers from serious construction industry hazards – been followed.”
OSHA has proposed penalties of $20,512, amounts set by federal statute for five violations.
Sheppard Farm and Ranch Services LLC is a farm and ranch fencing company whose five employees provide fencing services in West Texas. The company has 15 business days from receipt of citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.