Contractor Cited After Workers Found in Unprotected Trenches at Two Sites

Contractor Cited After Workers Found in Unprotected Trenches at Two Sites

OSHA previously cited the contractor for similar violations.

A South Dakota contractor is being cited for a willful violation after workers were in unprotected trenches twice in seven days.

According to a press release, OSHA inspectors visited two H&W Contracting LLC worksites. At the first site in Tea, South Dakota, OSHA found workers in an unprotected trench. Not even one week later, OSHA found workers at the Salem site in five unprotected trenches. Both of the inspections were in response to complaints.

The inspections found that there was no trench protection at both sites and a “competent person” did not remove workers from the trenches. At the Tea site, various systems were not protected from struck-by hazards and a ladder was not at the proper height for egress.

OSHA cited the contractor at each site. The Tea worksite was cited for one willful and three serious violations and proposed penalties of $122,838. The Salem worksite was cited for one willful violation and proposed penalties of $95,718. The contractor has been cited for similar violations in the last four years.

OSHA’s national emphasis program on trenching and excavations requires protective systems when the trenches are at a minimum of five feet deep and states that no water or hazards should be in the trenches. A safety egress must be accessible and someone must inspect the trenches.

“Each site had a different foreman, different crew members and a different scope of work. The common thread is H&W Contracting’s continued failure to protect its workers,” said OSHA Area Director Sheila Stanley in Sioux Falls in the press release. “Trench collapses are among the construction industry’s most deadly hazards. Workers caught when thousands of pounds of loose soil and rocks pour on and around them often suffer serious injuries or worse. H&W Contracting must change the way it operates before disaster strikes.”

Photo: isyaqilumaranas / Shutterstock.com

About the Author

Alex Saurman is the Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety.

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