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Monday's death of construction worker in Dundalk is fourth in same company this year

The construction worker who died after being struck by an excavator Monday in Baltimore County was one of at least four Archer Western employees who have died on the job this year.

Transito Rodriguez Cruz, 36, was clearing mud from a trench at the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant in Dundalk after a rainy weekend when he was pinned by heavy machinery, said Jeffrey Raymond, a spokesman for the Baltimore City Department of Public Works.

“He was shoveling into the bucket of an excavator and somehow the excavator’s arm moved and it pinned him up against a wall,” Raymond said.

It’s unclear who was operating the machine or whether precautions were taken to prevent such an accident, Raymond said. Those details are under investigation by Baltimore Environmental Police, a division of DPW, and Maryland Occupational Safety and Health.

Cruz was working for Archer Western, an Atlanta-based subsidiary of the Walsh Group, a Chicago construction management company. The company was contracted by DPW to build a system to remove nitrogen and phosphorous from the effluent at the Back River wastewater plant before it returned to the waterway, Raymond said.

At least three other Archer Western workers have died in construction accidents this year. Two men died in February working in a trench on Interstate 95 in Miami, where a concrete barrier fell on them. Another worker died after falling from a bridge that was under construction in Jacksonville, Fla., in October.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Archer Western in August for the deaths of the workers in Miami, proposing more than $33,000 in fines against the company. Archer Western is contesting the violations, according to OSHA records.

Archer Western officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

In Dundalk, Cruz had been mucking out a trench after weekend rain, Raymond said. The nutrient removal system was operational, and his work was part of a multiyear project.

Cruz’s death marked the second time a construction worker was killed in a trench in Maryland this year. Kyle Hancock, 20, died in June when a deep trench where he was working in Baltimore’s Clifton Park neighborhood collapsed around him.

Maryland Occupational Safety and Health said in that case the company failed to train its crews to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions and did not conduct adequate daily inspections of the site.

smeehan@baltsun.com

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Baltimore Sun reporter Christina Tkacik contributed to this article.

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