Safety and OSHA News

Trench collapse kills worker, but company doesn’t learn its lesson: $714K in fines

You’d think after an employee died in a trench collapse a company would follow good practices during excavation projects. That wasn’t the case with this company. 

OSHA says Arrow Plumbing LLC failed to provide trench collapse prevention and didn’t train its employees about excavation hazards.

The employee died on Dec. 15, 2016, when a 12-foot trench collapsed at a home construction site. One month later, inspectors found another Arrow employee working in a similarly unprotected trench at another job site.

OSHA issued 14 violations to the plumbing contractor with a total of $714,142 in fines.

The six willful and eight serious violations include failure to:

  • install a support system to protect employees in a 12-foot-deep trench from caving in
  • keep excavated or other materials at least two feet from the edge of a trench
  • inspect excavations, adjacent areas and protective systems before work began
  • identify confined spaces
  • develop and implement procedures and practices for entry into permit-required confined spaces
  • develop, implement and maintain a hazard communication program
  • train employees about hazardous chemicals in their work areas
  • train workers on how to identify hazards in trenching and excavation work, and
  • provide a ladder at all times so employees could leave a trench.

In 2016, OSHA received reports of 23 deaths and 12 injuries in trench and excavation operations. In the first five months of 2017, 15 deaths and 19 injuries have been reported.

The National Utility Contractors Association and OSHA are sponsoring Trench Safety Stand-Down Week through June 24 to educate and encourage employers and workers about trenching hazards.

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