Dukane Precast, Inc. v. Perez, No. 14-3156 (7th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Ortiz, working for a concrete products manufacturer, was in a sand storage bin trying to scrape its wall, when he sank and was engulfed by sand up to his neck. Workers tried to dig him out. Plant manager MacKenzie was notified within 10 minutes. He decided there was no emergency and left the scene. Rescue efforts were not progressing; Ortiz asked the workers to call 911. No one did. Eventually, MacKenzie called 911. The Fire Department’s Technical Rescue Team arrived within minutes. Ortiz had been trapped for 90 minutes. Using a vacuum truck to remove the sand, the team extricated Ortiz in about four hours. He sustained serious injuries to his lower body. The bin is a “permit-required confined space.” OSHA requires “procedures for summoning rescue and emergency services, for rescuing entrants … and for preventing unauthorized personnel from attempting a rescue.” The plan must specify that emergency services are to be summoned immediately and forbid others to attempt rescue. Other regulations require danger signs and a protective barrier. An OSHA inspector cited the employer for three “serious” and one “willful” violation, 29 U.S.C. 666. An ALJ imposed a penalty of $70,000. The Seventh Circuit denied a petition for review that challenged the finding of the willful violation and the finding of violation of the requirement of a barrier.