The family of a 20-year-old man who was killed on a construction site has proposed legislation for a mandatory fine when an employee is killed on the job. “He was priceless, and $3,000 doesn’t do s—,” said the man’s stepbrother.
Brett Collins was killed in Sheridan, WY, two years ago. He was struck in the head by an excavator bucket while working in a trench. He was about to start college when he was killed.
His family recently spoke to the Casper Star-Tribune about the bill they’ve proposed which is getting a hearing in the Wyoming state legislature. Wyoming has its own state OSHA program.
The bill would automatically fine companies $50,000 for workplace safety violations leading to a fatality. There would be no negotiations, no reduced penalties, just a flat $50,000.
Initially, Wyoming OSHA had proposed a $13,860 fine against Collins’ employer, COP Construction. After negotiations, that amount was reduced to $6,773. Of that, $4,410 was for inadequate safety training and $2,363 was for allowing a worker to be in a trench while an excavator was working.
It’s that second amount that Collins’ family refers to … less than $3,000 for the fatality.
When an OSHA inspector called Kim Collins, Brett’s stepmom, to tell her what the final fine was, she said she had to put down the phone because the fine was offensively low.
“Why is it that someone can kill my son and there is no consequence to that?” Kim Collins said.
Coen Cunningham, Brett Collins’ stepbrother, took the death particularly hard. The two were only eight months apart in age and grew up together. “An amazing man was killed for the price of $3,000,” he said.
2 bills introduced
The bill backed by the Collinses is one of two introduced to increase Wyoming OSHA fines.
The other would increase the maximums for serious and willful violations.
The current maximum for a serious violation in Wyoming is $7,000. That would go up to $12,000 under the proposal.
The current maximum for a willful violation is $70,000. That would rise to $120,000.
Similar bills to increase OSHA fines have been introduced in Congress at the federal level.
State Rep. Mary Throne (D) says the Collinses’ proposal might be the more likely to pass the Wyoming Legislature.
Other lawmakers say a sliding scale for the size of a company might make the $50,000-fatality bill more likely to pass.
In recent years, Wyoming’s workplace fatality rate has been the second highest in the country. In 2012, Brett Collins was one of 35 workers to die on the job in the state. Wyoming’s fatality rate that year was 12.2 deaths per 100,000 workers – nearly four times the national aveage of 3.4.
What do you think about the proposals to increase OSHA fines – particularly about the one that would address fatalities? Let us know in the comments.