A Monmouth man was killed Wednesday while unloading construction equipment at his family’s business.
Philip Coward, 30, died at the scene when a load of rebar fell onto him while he was working at Mid-Maine Foundations at 57 Howard Drive, Monmouth Police Chief Kevin Mulherin said.
There were no other injuries.
The property, located on a dead-end road near Cobbossee Lake, and the company are owned by Coward’s parents, Thomas and Lisa Coward, Mulherin said. Thomas Coward was present when the accident occurred.
Karen Billups, area supervisor for the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s office in Augusta, said her agency would reserve comment on the accident until the investigation is complete, which could take up to six months. Billups said the fact that Philip Coward was a family member rather than employee will alter the dynamic of that investigation slightly. She promised a thorough review of the incident and safety procedures, but she said if violations are uncovered, potential penalties would be limited to Gagne & Sons, the company delivering the material.
“It’s not a employer-employee relationship,” Billups said. “Of course we’re not going to go back on the family.”
Mulherin said Philip Coward was helping unload a delivery from Gagne & Sons around 10:45 a.m. when the accident occurred. The forks on the forklift somehow fell forward, causing the load to shift and fall off the forks and onto Coward. The load “essentially crushed” Coward, Mulherin said.
A birth announcement in the Times Record newspaper indicates Philip Coward has a 17-month-old daughter. His Facebook page indicates he has at least one other young child.
The accident occurred slightly more than two years after the last work-related fatality in Kennebec County. Robert M. “Bobbie” Rodriques Jr., of Augusta, was killed May 15, 2012, when a camp he was working on in Albion collapsed on him. The 54-year-old Rodriques died at the scene and 55-year-old Linwood Stover, the owner of Kennebec Home Improvements, which was doing the work, was injured.
OSHA fined Kennebec Home Improvements more than $9,000 for three separate violations.
Two other Kennebec County men were killed in September 2011 while servicing a sewage holding tank in Kennebunkport. Richard Kemp, 70, of Monmouth, and Winfield Studley, 58, of Windsor, were employees of Stevens Electric and Pump Services of Monmouth. Stevens Electric agreed to pay a nearly $17,000 fine after OSHA agreed to add language to its safety citations acknowledging that the employer had provided safety equipment that the employees did not use.
Staff writer Michael Shepherd contributed to this report.
Craig Crosby — 621-5642 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @CraigCrosby4