Maryland safety officials have launched an investigation into workplace safety after the deaths of a man and his two sons at a farm. Authorities believe the man, 48, and his teenage sons were killed in a work accident at a large dairy farm in Kennedyville, Maryland.
The Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Agency will lead the investigation, interviewing workers and the farm’s owner.
The medical examiner’s office ruled the deaths an accident and said the family members died from asphyxia. All three bodies were found submerged in a manure pit, which is 20 feet deep.
The man ran a dairy farm and also hauled manure. He would travel 53 miles to the other farm to pump and transport manure for use as fertilizer. His sons often helped him.
Even though the man was not an employee of the farm, the case still falls under the jurisdiction of Maryland OSHA officials. A check of state records showed that the farm never had been cited for violations, and a spokeswoman for the state Labor, Licensing and Regulation division said it had issued no prior citations.
Any safety violations that an investigation uncovers could lead to citations and fines.
The man’s youngest child was 14, and federal child-labor regulations allow some children who are at least 10 years old to do some work in farm settings. Maryland OSHA does not make any regulations regarding child labor. The fact that a child was involved will not impact this investigation, officials said.
The loss of the three family members is tragic. Their deaths, however, might lead to safety changes at this farm and others, improving the safety of future workers.