OSHA Cites SD Company in Trench Collapse

As of June 1, 2017, 15 workers in the United States have died this year in trench collapses. The total during 2016 was 23 deaths in trenching and excavation operations, OSHA reported.

OSHA has cited First Dakota Enterprises Inc., for failing to protect its workers from trench collapse hazards. The Fort Pierre, S.D.-based company faces proposed penalties of $95,064.

According to the agency, on May 23, 2017, a 34-year-old worker was completely buried when the walls of a 14-foot trench collapsed around him. Co-workers managed to quickly uncover the victim's head, allowing him to breathe while emergency personnel worked for more than 30 minutes to free him.

OSHA reported that its investigators determined First Dakota Enterprises failed to use a trench protective system or conduct regular site inspections to correct potentially hazardous conditions. OSHA cited the company, which was contracted by the city of Emery, S.D., to replace the city's main sewer and water lines, for two repeat and one serious safety violations.

As of June 1, 2017, 15 workers in the United States have died this year in trench collapses. The total during 2016 was 23 deaths in trenching and excavation operations, OSHA reported. "Trench collapses are preventable," said OSHA Area Director Sheila Stanley in Sioux Falls. "It is critical that employers involved in excavation work review their safety procedures to ensure that employees are properly protected and trained. Had it not been for the heroic actions of these co-workers, this dangerous collapse may have ended in tragedy."

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