For six months, the residents of Everett, Washington have been mourning the premature death of one of their own: a 19- year-old college student.
According to Q13 FOX News, Bradley Hogue was killed in a work-related accident last summer. Hogue was only two days into his job at Pacific Topsoils, a landscaping company, when he tripped and fell into a hopper.
“Sometimes I feel like it’s not real,” said Alan Hogue, his father.
“It was a bark company, so I thought he’d be throwing bark around, physical labor,” he said. “I had no idea there was machinery around that could kill him.”
Hogue’s mother, Deanna, is equally distraught and regretful that she didn’t do more to prevent the accident.
“I asked him not to work, just focus on school,” she said. “He just wanted it for the summertime to earn a little pocket money.”
The U.S. Department of Labor soon got involved, investigating the on-site death and the safety practices of Pacific Topsoils. Labor officials came to the conclusion that Hogue’s death was totally preventable and that it was caused by basic safety violations. The department has recently fined Pacific Topsoils $200,000 for safety violations.
Hogue’s parents agree with the department’s assessment. “If you have to be in that situation,” Alan said, “there should have been a cutoff switch. When he falls, it pulls it loose and shuts it down. There also should have been someone watching him.”
“As professionals in the green industry it is our responsibility to commit as much time and resources to safety awareness and training as we do improving the skill level of our crew members,” said Dan Hamilton, operations manager at Borsello Landscaping. “Establishing a safe work environment is the first step to success.”
For their part, Pacific Topsoils released the following statement: “While we fully embrace the practice changes and improvements recommended by LandI [Department of Labor and Industries], Pacific Topsoils will exercise its right to appeal the proposed violations.”
Still reeling with grief, Hogue’s mother hopes that the accident will encourage other parents to talk to their children about taking risky jobs.
“Tell them that saying no is OK,” she said. “No job is worth jeopardizing your life. If we can prevent this from happening to another child, another family, that’s our mission.”