The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

July 18, 2013

Work accidents probed

OSHA eyes fatal fall, electrocution

By Melissa Klaric
Herald Staff Writer

SHARPSVILLE — Two work-related accidents in Sharpsville within two weeks are being investigated by the federal Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration.

The accidents were a fatal fall and serious injuries from an electrocution.

Guy Burgess, 37, who lived near Cochranton, fell to his death July 11 while trimming trees at a home on South Walnut Street in Sharpsville, according to OSHA.

Mercer County Coroner J. Bradley McGonigle Jr., ruled the death an accident.

“We are currently conducting an investigation surrounding the circumstances of that incident,” Brendan Claybaugh, acting area director of the OSHA office in Erie, said.

Burgess was a partner in the business for which he was working, Thomas Tree Care in Adamsville.

The tree service is a small company, in which both families were very close, according to Christian Thomas, the other half of the company.

“We were good friends and it’s an unfortunate thing that happened,” Thomas said.

Burgess was in an articulating boom truck, also referred to as a bucket truck.

“He was not wearing his safety equipment that he has himself and I provide for him,” Thomas said. “He was not wearing it and I was not present at the time.”

The bucket truck calls for the worker to be wearing a safety harness with a strap connected to the boom, Thomas said.

“We do not know who was at fault,” Claybaugh said. “We will conduct a thorough investigation and compile the facts before coming to any conclusions.”

By law, OSHA has six months to complete an investigation.

Claybaugh guesses the investigation into Burgess’ accident will take about two months.

Thomas said his company has gained the reputation of being safe and doing good work over many years.

“We’ve never put so much as a limb through a roof before,” he said. “Never had an employee hurt.”

Thomas said the business is his livelihood and the sole way he provides for his family.

“Through nothing I did, I was not even there, this already took one life and it would destroy our lives if our clientele think we’re unsafe,” Thomas said.

Although each accident is looked at differently, Claybaugh said, OSHA has protocol to follow in a typical accident investigation.

“We look at equipment training, company policies and procedures, conduct interviews with employees and company officials,” Claybaugh said.

OSHA did not have much information about the roofing accident on June 29 involving Sharpsville High School graduate and standout athlete Tyler Luchey, according to Claybaugh.

“We are trying to look into the facts of the electrocution,” Claybaugh said.

The 18-year-old was working for his father’s business, Affordable Builders, when he sustained life-threatening injuries.

Luchey likely hit a high tension electrical wire with a roofing tool and was thrown 30 feet to the pavement.

He is listed in stable condition in UPMC Mercy, Pittsburgh, where he is recovering from multiple broken bones and 40 percent burns covering his body.

According to OSHA, a company is required to report an accident that results in three or more people hospitalized with severe injuries; a death; or an amputation due to a mechanical power press.