Court confirms ruling that Tarrytown violated labor laws in deaths of two workers


TARRYTOWN – The Village of Tarrytown
violated state labor law when two of its municipal employees went into
a confined space where there was a sewer blockage and both men died of

On September 6, 2010, an employee of the Tarrytown DPW went into a 20-foot
deep manhole in an attempt to repair a sewer problem. During his descent,
he lost consciousness and fell to the bottom. In an attempted rescue,
a Tarrytown volunteer firefighter also lost consciousness and fell.

Killed in the accident were firefighter John Kelly and DPW worker Anthony

The state Department of Labor’s Public Employee Safety and Health
Bureau investigated and issued a notice of violation and order to comply
pertaining to the protection of employees from the hazards of entry into
permit-required confined spaces.

The village appealed the ruling and following a hearing the New York State
Industrial Board of Appeals affirmed the labor department’s findings.

Tarrytown later sought to have the decision overturned in the Appellate
Division of State Supreme Court. The court last week rejected that appeal
saying the evidence established Tarrytown officials were aware of the
requirements of those state regulations.

“Although the petitioner [the village] allegedly restricted its
DPW employees from entering confined spaces, a practice existed in which
its DPW employees entered such confined spaces,” the justices wrote.
“The evidence also showed that the petitioner did not implement
a written permit space program for volunteer firefighters. In addition,
the evidence demonstrates that the petitioner’s management made
little or no effort to communicate the requirements of the subject regulation
to its lower level supervisors and employees.”

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