OSHA finds six breaches in accident that killed WASA worker

Kern Etienne. -
Kern Etienne. -

This story has been updated to include additional details. See updated post here.

THE Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OSHA) has filed a formal complaint in the Industrial Court against the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) for six breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) Act, following the accident that claimed the life of WASA wastewater craftsman Kern Etienne on October 22, 2023.

Etienne was working on the sewer and water mains at the San Fernando Licensing Office Compound when he was buried alive after a mound of dirt fell and trapped him in a trench.

The matter was called for case management on June 7.

According to a media release on June 9, WASA’s internal investigation into the incident identified a number of procedural and safety deficiencies in the conduct and execution of the job, and the authority has been in consultation with its attorneys to get legal direction on the matter.

WASA said, immediately after the October fatality, its Board of Commissioners launched an investigation and instructed the authority’s executive team to take immediate steps to ensure all health and safety processes and procedures were adopted and adhered to without exception.

These steps included:

• An immediate HSE safety standdown of all WASA crews, during which the CEO and Director of Operations met with all senior operations staff to reinforce a zero-tolerance standard on safety.

• Refresher training was provided for all managers and crews on the safety procedures and protocols regarding excavation and similar type work.

• To ensure compliance, random inspections are conducted at operations sites, with zero tolerance for any safety breach.

• WASA has partnered with Amcham and the National Gas Company to enhance excavation safety competency for selected staff.

Additionally, the authority has engaged the services of NGC to review, audit and advise on its processes to ensure they are in line with international best practice.

The authority said it remains committed to ensuring that all its safety systems are robust, and that works are performed in a safe manner.


"OSHA finds six breaches in accident that killed WASA worker"

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