Worker laying sod for Missouri company likely suffered heat stroke; OSHA investigates death

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Kansas City Area Office has opened an investigation into the death of an employee of Briggs Traditional Turf Farm, Inc., 22414 S Harper Rd in Peculiar, Mo.

The worker was found unresponsive after prepping soil and laying sod for a new housing project in Kansas City, Missouri on Thursday, Aug. 11. Preliminary reports indicate the worker had suffered heat stroke while working outdoors in conditions with a heat index of 105 degrees.

An officer patrolling the area of Leslie and Bannister was flagged down and told there was a man dead nearby.  According to a police report, the officer observed the man lying on his back in a gravel rock quarry.  The officer said there were no signs of life and when the ambulance arrived, they confirmed the man was dead.

According to two witnesses, the victim, a 47-year-old man and reportedly the father of five, had not been feeling well and decided to rest. One witness says he picked up the man at his house at about 7:30 a.m.  At about 2:30 p.m., the co-worker noticed the man taking a break in the rock quarry and lying down and asked if he was okay. He says the man told him he was fine, but wasn’t feeling right and needed a break. He says he didn’t think anything about it until he found him unresponsive about 4½ hours later. Another witness said he also asked the man if he was okay in the afternoon. That co-worker reports the man said he wasn’t feeling right and needed to sleep it off.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the employee who lost his life,” said Todd Sieleman, OSHA’s acting area director in Kansas City. “Ultimately, employers are responsible for providing a workplace that are free from recognized hazards and our investigation will try to determine what might have caused this preventable fatality.”

OSHA has identified numerous measures for employers to follow such as providing adequate water, rest and shade while working in heat. OSHA has established a campaign and a Heat Safety App to help tackle widespread preventable heat hazards and to alert employers of the dangers of heat stress. With temperatures expected to reach near 90 degrees this week employers and worker are encouraged to utilize these tools to stay safe while working in the heat.

-Information from OSHA news release-

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