OSHA finds ‘serious’ violations at Fort Jackson in death of forestry worker during prescribed burn

OSHA finds ‘serious’ violations at Fort Jackson in death of forestry worker during prescribed burn

FORT JACKSON, S.C. (WIS) - Angela N. Hawkins died May 22 during a prescribed burn operation at Fort Jackson.

Hawkins, or “Nicole” as she was known to most, lived in Columbia and worked at Fort Jackson as a wildlife biologist since August 2007.

While several agencies are still looking into the details surrounding her death, OSHA, the workplace safety arm of the U.S. Department of Labor, issued a Notice of Unsafe and Unhealthful Working Conditions to the Department of Public Works, Forestry Branch at the base.

The Oct. 18 notice described “Serious Violations,” saying the Forestry Branch at Fort Jackson did not have a workplace free from “recognized hazards that could lead to injury or death."

Also, the report stated that on May 22, in the Eastern Impact Area Burn Block G at Fort Jackson, the agency failed to ensure those participating in the control burn of forest vegetation, including Hawkins, were adequately protected from fire hazards while igniting or controlling the burn areas.

Among the suggested remedies, OSHA wrote the Forestry Branch should develop and use a mandatory procedure for igniting control burn areas. That could include keeping a constant eye on employees, using a “Man Down” button to notify first responders that there was a problem, or using a GPS locator to get to the victim easily.

The date by which those changes were to be made was Nov. 14. A spokesman for OSHA confirmed “Fort Jackson did abate the violations.”

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