Trench Collapse Leads to $63,360 Fine for Ohio Company

An OSHA inspector was performing a work site inspection when he directed an employee to exit the trench, believing collapse was imminent. Within five minutes the trench collapsed and could have buried the worker under 6 to 7 feet of soil.

OSHA has issued Trimat Construction Inc. of Bidwell, Ohio, six safety citations after a trench collapsed at a job site in Mercerville on March 8. The company faces penalties of $63,360.

An OSHA inspector was performing a work site inspection when he directed an employee to exit the trench, believing collapse was imminent. Within five minutes the trench collapsed and could have buried the worker under 6 to 7 feet of soil.

"The actions of the compliance officer likely saved this worker's life," said David Wilson, assistant area director of OSHA's Columbus Area Office. "Cave-ins are a leading cause of worker fatalities during excavations."

Two willful citations were issued for allowing a Trimat employee to work in a trench at a depth greater than 10 feet without cave-in protection or a safe means of egress.

The company also was issued four serious citations for failing to require employees to wear head protection, failing to provide training on proper set-up and inspection procedures for maintaining channelization devices between the work area and road to protect workers from traffic hazards; failure to provide a road zone barrier; and failing to keep excavated material and equipment 2 feet from the edge of an excavation to prevent a cave-in.

The inspection was conducted under OSHA's national emphasis program on trenching and excavation. OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards, adopted by OSHA in the 1980s, is available on the agency's website at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.

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