More Trench Safety Classes for Chicago Department of Water Management Employees

Trench Safety Chicago.jpg
On October 30, 2007 at 4:30 p.m., Chicago Department of Water Management had some additional instructions on Trench Safety. Prior to the meeting, I discussed trench safety with Jesse Canet, a foremen in the North District. Jesse was concerned about “Production”. As we all know, trench safety has been one of my most major concerns at the Chicago Water Department. It took years to update this department into the new century. I had many spirited conversations with Foreman, District Foreman, and Superintendents, demanding Job-site safety for Chicago City Workers. I was alone and called a “Troublemaker”, but in the end, declared victory. Many people in the meeting brought up many concerns, but I am happy to report, Arnold Coleman made it clear by saying, ” YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE IT SAFE”. The meeting was given by Water’s Safety Department employees, Mark Holder, Alice Carter, and William Coclanes. Chicago has a one year agreement with the State of Illinois Department of Labor, to get the Water Department in compliance. I was proud to be the only “Competent Person” at the meeting, so I think we better get all employees certified A.S.A.P. Remember, in the long run, Chicago Taxpayers will benefit by saving millions in workman comp claims. Special thanks to Fran Spielman for making this a public issue at the Chicago Sun-Times. Also thanks to James LoVerde for sending me to the classes. Photo by Patrick McDonough.

5 Replies to “More Trench Safety Classes for Chicago Department of Water Management Employees”

  1. Patrick1 wrote “I was proud to be the only “Competent Person” at the meeting”

    Just goes to show your” I am better than everone else ego. The Human Resouces Board got it right with Frank C, I wish they had gotten right with you.

    (Response) It means we have a way to go to get everyone a Competent” status. Now go to class, learn the material, and apply the knowledge to keep yourself and your crew safe. Patrick McDonough

  2. Many people die in trenches falling in on workers. I am grateful for all you are doing to make life safer for the Chicago City Worker. I can relax at home an wait in peace knowing my husband will come home safe.

  3. yor husband is cheating on you and is going to leave you. bet u wish he died at work so u can get the money first.

  4. thanks for all your help in making this department better. Ole Robert

  5. Hired Truck whistleblower hurt on job

    April 7, 2006
    BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter

    A city plumber who helped blow the whistle on the Hired Truck scandal was injured on the job this week, three months after a hearing officer reversed his firing.

    When debris on either side of an eight-foot hole started falling in on him, Pat McDonough smelled a rat.

    “I’m suspicious. I was put into a dangerous hole. . . . They might have set me up,” said McDonough, 45.

    “They’re certainly not happy about having me back. I embarrassed the Water Department with Hired Truck stuff. . . . There was a lot of stuff that came out. Then, ironically, here I am in a cave-in. . . . Maybe they did it to shut me up. Mysterious things start happening to whistleblowers.”

    Criticized safety measures

    McDonough said the hole — in an alley at 2625 W. 23rd Place — was not shored up on either side, as safety regulations require. That’s another embarrassing allegation that surfaced during sworn testimony at his Personnel Board hearing.

    “During the hearing, under oath, we brought up how there’s no shoring, no safety here in the Water Department,” he said. “They keep working illegally in holes that are not shorn up. . . . I brought it to everybody’s attention. Now, I’m the victim of what I’ve been complaining about.

    “Either they set me up for a fall or they’re just blatantly ignoring the laws of shoring and trench safety, recklessly endangering my life and everybody else’s.”

    Water Management spokesman Tom LaPorte flatly denied McDonough was set up in retaliation for his whistleblowing.

    ‘Simple accident,’ official says

    “He was emerging from a hole at the work site when some debris appears to have crumbled at the edge of the hole. . . . Photographs suggest some loose debris, but nothing that can be described as a collapse,” LaPorte said. “We have no indication this is anything other than a simple accident.”

    LaPorte acknowledged that the city’s safety policy demands that trenches more than five feet deep be protected — either by shoring, sloping of the ground or “equivalent means.” They must also be examined by an employee formally trained and designated as “competent.” At least one is assigned to each crew.

    “In this case, we have a signed statement from the competent person indicating his professional judgment that the excavation was safe. We are investigating to see whether our policies were followed,” LaPorte said.

    The incident occurred about 11 a.m. Wednesday while McDonough was installing new pipes to restore water service to a house with a reported leak.

    He was taken away in a Chicago Fire Department ambulance. On Thursday, he complained of back and head trauma, a wrist injury and hands he described as “all cut up.”

    The accident marks the latest chapter in McDonough’s City Hall employment saga. He helped blow the whistle on the Hired Truck scandal, got fired last spring for allegedly violating the city’s residency requirement and was hired back after a city hearing officer reversed his firing.

    In between, there was explosive testimony at McDonough’s Personnel Board hearing from a co-worker who claimed overtime was for sale in the Department of Water Management and that gambling was rampant on city time at city worksites.

    In the ruling that gave McDonough his job back, hearing officer Carl McCormick described a work site “akin to a hellish nightmare” where bribery and bullying reigned supreme. He said it was “difficult to envision a work site more indecent.”

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