Pump Service Penalized Following Death of 19-year-old Worker

OSHA issued citations as the result of an inspection conducted after a 19-year-old worker died when an unprotected trench collapsed at a Wisconsin job site. Proposed fines total $137,000.

OSHA has cited River Falls, Wis.-based Gordy's Pump Service with five safety— including two willful—violations as the result of an inspection conducted after a 19-year-old worker died when an unprotected trench collapsed at a Spring Valley, Wis., job site on Nov. 3, 2011. Proposed fines for the citations total $137,000.

The 19-year-old and one other worker had just finished locating an existing waterline in the trench using a hand-held shovel when a sidewall caved in. The trench was approximately 220 feet long, 6 feet deep, and 2 feet wide. The other worker was not injured.

"Gordy's Pump Service has a responsibility to ensure that workers are properly trained and protected from known workplace hazards such as trench cave-ins, a leading cause of death and injury in excavation work," said Mark Hysell, OSHA's area director in Eau Claire. "SHA is committed to protecting workers, especially when employers fail to so."

The willful violations include failing to provide required cave-in protection and a means of egress from the trench.

Three serious violations include failing to ensure the use of head protection, keep spoil piles at least 2 feet back from the excavation's edge, and train employees working in trenches to recognize excavation hazards.

Due to the willful violations, OSHA has placed Gordy's Pump Service in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law.

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