U.S. Aqua Vac Cited in Diver's Death, Penalized $223,454

The company was cited for similar failures in 2009 that caused another death, according to OSHA.

An OSHA inspection following a fatal incident involving an U.S. Aqua Vac Inc. diver found that the company failed to provide the 23-year-old worker with a reserve air tank, line-tending, and continuous visual contact during a dive in a New Albany, Ohio, pond in November 2014, the agency reported.

These omissions led to the worker's death, according to OSHA, which cited the company for two willful, four repeat, and 11 serious safety violations. U.S. Aqua Vac has also been placed in the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program. OSHA has proposed $223,454 in penalties against the company, which is based in Hebron, Ind., and specializes in removing muck, sludge, and silt from lakes and ponds.

"This man's family has been devastated by this preventable tragedy," said Deborah Zubaty, OSHA's area director in Columbus. "Without training and protective equipment, U.S. Aqua Vac's divers are put at risk. The company is responsible for the safety and well-being of its employees above and below the water."

Inspectors also found that U.S. Aqua Vac divers were not provided with two-way communication devices, a guard at the end of a suction hose, a standby diver, and depth gauges for surface-supplied air. The company also failed to assess conditions before diving operations began and to provide a safe practices manual. Similar violations were found by inspectors after a diver died in Deerfield, Ill., in 2009, according to OSHA's news release, which said U.S. Aqua Vac also did not train the New Albany dive team in CPR, pressure test hoses, or maintain equipment and failed to provide a manual resuscitation mask, first aid equipment, or quick-release dive weight belts.

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