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Feds: Key Largo Utility Workers "Needlessly Lost Their Lives"

David Goodhue
The Reporter
D.N. Higgins workers console each other following the deaths of three of their colleagues inside a 15-foot-deep drainage hole in Key Largo on Jan. 16.

The United States Department of Labor cited a Michigan underground utility company with 10 violations totaling more than $100,000 in penalties for the deaths of three workers who were killed by noxious fumes 15 feet beneath a Key Largo subdivision street on Jan. 16.

Among the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration's chief findings in its July 18 report was that the company, Douglas N. Higgins, Inc., did not ventilate the manhole before its workers entered it and were rapidly overcome by lethal levels of hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide.

"The hazards of working in manholes are well established, but there are ways to make it safe," Condell Eastmond, the OSHA area director in Fort Lauderdale, said in a statement. "Three employees needlessly lost their lives and others were injured due to their employer's failure to follow safe work practices."

Read more from our news partners at flkeysnews.com.