OSHA fines Missouri contractor for trench collapse

ConDig (06-Jul-20).  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fined a Missouri-based contractor $224,459 after an employee suffered severe injuries when a 20-foot trench collapsed during excavation of Creve Coeur Sanitary Sewer Trunk in Creve Coeur, Missouri. 

The agency cited Unnerstall Contracting Company LLC for failing to utilize adequate trench protective systems, permitting employees to ride in the bucket of hydraulic excavators and allowing water to accumulate in the floor of the trench. 

OSHA also cited the company for failing to provide a safe means of egress from the trench, protect workers from struck-by hazards, and place excavated soil piles an adequate distance from trench edges.

“Excavating and trenching operations are among the most hazardous occupations in the construction industry,” said OSHA St. Louis area director Bill McDonald. 

“A trench collapse can happen in just seconds causing serious injuries just as quickly. Injuries can be prevented when employers train workers on excavation hazards and ensure required protections are in place before workers enter a trench as required by the OSHA standard.”

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Last month, OSHA fined roofing contractor Elmer Julio Perez, operating as Julio Perez, $138,118 after a worker fatally fell from a residential roof at a Mobile, Alabama, construction project. 

In May, OSHA fined two Florida-based contractors a total of $44,146 after a worker fell to his death on a project in Miami, Florida.

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