(PUEBLO, Colo.) — An investigation into the deaths of two workers at an industrial coal facility in Pueblo in June 2022 revealed that the workers’ employer failed to follow federal standards and did not train employees on proper safety procedures.
An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) showed that three employees of Savage Services Corp. climbed onto the coal pile to determine if the feeder below was receiving coal. As they were climbing the pile, the coal shifted, fatally burying 28-year-old Kyle Busey of Pueblo and 36-year-old Phillip Roberts of Cañon City. The third worker was able to escape without injury.
According to a press release, OSHA issued citations to Savage Services Corp. for one serious violation and two willful violations for failing to implement safe work practices and for not training workers as required by federal law.
The company faces $304,556 in proposed penalties.
The press release states that Savage Services Corp. was at the forefront of a similar incident in December 2020, after a coal pile collapsed onto a bulldozer at a company facility in New Mexico, trapping an employee inside the machine until their rescue an hour later.
“A near-tragedy at another Savage Services Corp. facility in 2020 made the company acutely aware of the serious hazards for those working around coal piles and yet, two workers’ families, friends and co-workers are now left to grieve,” said OSHA Area Director Chad Vivian in Englewood. “With legally required standard safety practices in place and training provided, the company could have prevented this terrible incident.”
According to the press release from OSHA, Savage Services Corp. has more than 200 locations throughout the United States, as well as in Canada, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia.
The corporation has 15 business days from receipt of its 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.
Savage Services Corp. has issued a statement in response:
Nothing is more important than safety at Savage, and we’re committed to providing robust training for our people, complying with all safety rules and regulations, and adhering to our own high standards for safety so all Team Members can return home safe each day. The loss of our two Team Members at the Comanche power plant has been devastating for all of us at Savage, and we are deeply saddened along with their families and the Pueblo community. We’re continually reviewing our safety practices to ensure our Team Members are safe. We also continue to provide support for the impacted families and express our heartfelt condolences. While we share OSHA’s goal to ensure safe and healthy working conditions, we strongly disagree with the agency’s characterizations of our practices. We will continue to cooperate with OSHA and work to resolve the matter.Savage Services Corp.