OSHA fines Missouri contractor following fatal trench collapse

OSHA fines Missouri contractor following fatal trench collapConDig (06-Oct-22).  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fined a Missouri-based contractor $58,008 following a deadly trench collapse.

OSHA cited Brown Construction Co amid claims that it failed to use a trench box, or to shore or slope the trench walls to prevent collapse. 

The company did not provide a required means to exit the 80-foot-long trench. It also failed to train employees about excavation hazards and safety precautions and did not have a competent person inspect the trench daily for potential hazards, according to OSHA.

“A collapse takes just seconds and often ends a life forever,” said OSHA area director Bill McDonald.

“Employers are legally responsible for following required safety measures and training workers so they recognize hazards and potentially hazardous situations. Sadly, tragedy has struck again for a worker trapped in a trench, and their family, friends and co-workers are left to grieve.”

The worker tragically died while installing storm water drainage in an 8-foot-deep trench along Old Highway 60 in Dudley. 

Trench collapses are among the construction industry’s most lethal hazards. In the first six months of 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports 22 workers suffered fatal injuries in trenching and excavation work.

OSHA has a national emphasis program on trenching and excavationsTrenching standards require protective systems on trenches deeper than 5 feet, and soil and other materials kept at least 2 feet from the edge of a trench. Additionally, trenches must be inspected by a knowledgeable person, be free of standing water and atmospheric hazards and have a safe means of entering and exiting prior to allowing a worker to enter.

In August, OSHA fined a Dundee, Ohio-based roofing contractor $228,126 for exposing workers to potential deadly fall hazards on an Akron job site. Also in August, OSHA fined a New York-based roofing and siding contractor $1.3 million after a worker fell to their death — the second in three years.