Fatal Trench Collapse Leads to $201,600 Penalty for Excavator

OSHA has cited John Prouty Construction Inc. of O'Neill, Neb., for alleged violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act following an investigation of a trench collapse near Verdel, Neb., that killed four workers Sept. 12, 2008. The agency's investigation of the excavation company's site found three alleged willful and two alleged serious violations of the act.

"There is no excuse for this accident and these workers did not need to lose their lives. It is appalling to realize there are companies that would allow, or even require, their employees to enter excavations without having cave-in protection," said Charles Adkins, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. "It is imperative that employers take the necessary steps to eliminate hazards and provide a safe working environment for all of their employees to prevent accidents like this from occurring."

The willful violations stem from the company's failure to instruct employees in recognizing and avoiding unsafe conditions when working in a trench and not having a cave-in protection system. Furthermore, excavated spoils and other equipment were not kept two feet from the trench edge. OSHA issues a willful violation when an employer exhibits plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

The serious violations stem from the lack of hard hat use by employees where an overhead hazard existed as well as failure to provide safe access into and egress from a trench greater than four feet in depth. OSHA issues a serious citation when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard that an employer knew or should have known about.

OSHA has proposed $201,600 in penalties against the company, which has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Omaha, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Get the Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping

    OSHA’s Form 300A posting deadline is February 1! Are you prepared? To help answer your key recordkeeping questions, IndustrySafe put together this guide with critical compliance information.

  • Steps to Conduct a JSA

    We've put together a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you perform a job safety analysis (JSA), which includes a pre-built, JSA checklist and template, steps of a JSA, list of potential job hazards, and an overview of hazard control hierarchy.

  • Everything You Need to Know about Incident investigations

    Need some tips for conducting an incident investigation at work after there’s been an occupational injury or illness, or maybe even a near miss? This guide presents a comprehensive overview of methods of performing incident investigations to lead you through your next steps.

  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Industry Safe
Bulwark CP

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - October 2020

    October 2020

    Featuring:

    • FACILITY SECURITY
      EHS Compliance: Make it Personal
    • FOOT PROTECTION
      Choosing the Right Safety Shoe for Your Industry
    • HAND PROTECTION
      A Requirements Checklists for Work Safety Gloves
    • COVID-19 MANAGEMENT
      Contemporary Issues in HSE Management
    View This Issue