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OSHA cites contractor in explosion at Kansas City restaurant

20 August 2013

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited a communications utilities contractor, for the natural gas leak that flattened JJ's Restaurant in Kansas City. The February explosion occurred when an employee of Heartland Midwest LLC, a communications utilities contracting company, hit a 2-inch gas pipe with an underground boring machine.

The employee was laying fibre optic cable and the broken pipe leaked gas for an hour before the explosion at the restaurant, killing one patron and wounding at least 15 people, including three employees of Heartland Midwest. It also damaged nearby buildings.

OSHA cited Heartland Midwest for two violations, one for failing to provide a safe work environment for its employees and the other for failure to provide its employees with footwear to protect them from electrocution. The company faces a possible fine of up to $161,000.

An attorney for Heartland Midwest rebutted OSHA's findings, saying they were merely claims, not conclusions. He said OSHA had issued no rules, regulations or published guidelines concerning the proper methods to safely conduct underground drilling. 

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