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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -
AT&T should consider installing panic buttons in its vehicles in the wake of a tardy response after a worker was brutally attacked, the federal government said Friday.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined AT&T $7,000 for failing to protect Kevin Mashburn. The company vigorously disputed the criticism in a statement, and the company is expected to contest the citation.
"The employer failed to ensure employees needing emergency assistance have a means of continuous communication to readily summon assistance when needed," the citation says. "... An employee was injured while conducting fieldwork and was not able to make positive contact with anyone to communicate his need for emergency assistance."
The company vigorously disputed the criticism in a statement.
Mashburn, 58, was on a service called when authorities say he was attacked by an ex-convict. Bleeding, Mashburn tried to escape and sought help from AT&T dispatchers.
OSHA said it took 19 minutes for Mashburn to get the attention of his dispatchers that he needed emergency help. It took another 50 minutes to actually find Mashburn and his vehicle.
He was taken to the hospital where he died.
Using an instant messaging program, Mashburn's first call for help came at 2:52 a.m.
AT&T dispatch logs show his message as, "I need you to call me an ambulance. I have been attacked." The conversation lasted a little more than 30 minutes.
Mashburn says he was attacked with a flat crowbar, that he was badly hurt and his head was split open.
Mashburn's son, William Mashburn, said it is difficult to learn about the details of the last moments of his father's life.
"The pleas for help and the waiting," he said. "It's difficult to really try to create that little movie in your head of what your father went through."
The federal government says if AT&T would install panic buttons that it would protect employees.
"These buttons would allow the employee to push a button attached to the vehicle key that would send a signal to emergency responders," OSHA said. "Responders could then locate the employee due to GPS system located in vehicles. Telephones mounted to the interior of the company vehicles could insure (sic) that there would always be a telephone available inside the truck for emergencies."
William Mashburn said he would like to see AT&T adopt OSHA's suggestions.
"Hopefully going forward, guys that are in situations like my Dad, on the clock, on that time, are safer," he said.
AT&T did not address OSHA's suggestions in its statement. AT&T said Mashburn had access to multiple communication devices including a company-issued cellphone and a company-issued laptop with instant messaging capability.
"Kevin Mashburn was a dedicated employee for more than 40 years and our hearts continue to go out to his family, friends and co-workers. OSHA's allegations are at odds with the facts and it's unfortunate that OSHA ignored the fact that Mr. Mashburn had multiple devices by which he could communicate his situation and, contrary to the citation, he in fact did so.
"We're committed to the safety of our employees and provide our technicians with extensive safety training and capabilities, including cell phones and laptops, to contact police, the company or other first responders in an emergency."
No civil litigation has been filed by Mashburn's family. He worked for AT&T for 40 years.
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