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OSHA looking into Columbus man’s death

August 2, 2018

Editor’s note: The Columbus Telegram first reported this story Tuesday on its website, columbustelegram.com and in Wednesday’s print edition. This is a follow-up story with new information.

Columbus Police on Wednesday identified the man killed in a workplace accident Tuesday morning at a local manufacturing plant as 61-year-old Columbus man Juvenal Aguilar.

Aguilar, a Nebraska Precast employee, was reportedly pinned under heavy equipment when Columbus Fire and Rescue personnel arrived at the scene shortly after 10 a.m. Tuesday, as previously reported by The Columbus Telegram. The city man was declared dead at the scene.

Four other unidentified workers were injured and transported to Columbus Community Hospital, where two were admitted and two were treated and released, according to information released Wednesday by CCH Vice President Amy Blaser,.

The two who remained in the hospital were listed in “good condition” Wednesday, said Blaser, adding she could not release the names of those injured, the extent of their injuries or their gender or ages because of federal health privacy laws.

When rescue personnel arrived Tuesday, according to Columbus Fire Chief Dan Miller, CFD units observed several injured workers, including one pinned under a concrete form used to create livestock feed bunks, which tipped while being filled.

Police Capt. Todd Thalken said four city officers, including an investigator, responded to the 911 report of an industrial accident at Nebraska Precast, 3154 50th Ave.

An hours-long investigation determined that “no foul play” or criminal negligence was suspected involving the accident, according to Thalken. The police are not involved in the investigation once it’s been determined an accident.

“That’s our role,” Thalken said.

City officers remained on the scene about six hours.

Nebraska Precast spokesman Nick Larson said the company’s staff was shaken by the accident and loss of life on Tuesday.

“Anytime there’s a loss of life it’s an emotional roller-coaster because nobody wants to see anybody get hurt,” said Larson, who cited a pending OSHA investigation in declining to comment on the 1-year-old plant’s incident/injury statistics.

“We’re just trying to figure out the proper way to move forward,” added Larson, who was on-site Tuesday at the time of the fatal accident.

He said he was not in position to comment on the status those injured in the accident out of respect for their families.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigators were on scene by late Tuesday afternoon and the investigation remains ongoing. An OSHA spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday the agency has opened an active accident inspection.

The company reported the incident to OSHA as required, according to Rhonda Burke, deputy director of public affairs for the U.S. Department of Labor in Chicago.

“The incident was reported to OSHA late Tuesday morning,” she said.

Employers, Burke said, must report any worker fatality within eight hours and any amputation, loss of an eye, or hospitalization of a worker within 24 hours.

OSHA has up to six months to complete its inspection, issue citations and proposed penalties if violations of health or safety regulations are found.

Nebraska Precast, headquartered in Columbus, is affiliated with Obrist & Co. Inc. Many of Nebraska Precast’s products are on display in front of Obrist’s utility division location at 5020 Howard Blvd.

Nebraska Precast manufactures a variety of precast concrete products for agricultural, construction, landscaping, utility applications and more, according to its website. The company makes steps, patio sets, septic tanks and feed bunks.

Jim Osborn is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at jim.osborn@lee.net.

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