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 /

About the Author

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

Download Center

  • Safety Metrics Guide

    Is your company leveraging its safety data and analytics to maintain a safe workplace? With so much data available, where do you start? This downloadable guide will give you insight on helpful key performance indicators (KPIs) you should track for your safety program.

  • Job Hazard Analysis Guide

    This guide includes details on how to conduct a thorough Job Hazard Analysis, and it's based directly on an OSHA publication for conducting JHAs. Learn how to identify potential hazards associated with each task of a job and set controls to mitigate hazard risks.

  • A Guide to Practicing “New Safety”

    Learn from safety professionals from around the world as they share their perspectives on various “new views” of safety, including Safety Differently, Safety-II, No Safety, Human and Organizational Performance (HOP), Resilience Engineering, and more in this helpful guide.

  • Lone Worker Safety Guide

    As organizations digitalize and remote operations become more commonplace, the number of lone workers is on the rise. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies. This guide was created to help employers better understand common lone worker risks and solutions for lone worker risk mitigation and incident prevention.

  • EHS Software Buyer's Guide

    Learn the keys to staying organized, staying sharp, and staying one step ahead on all things safety. This buyer’s guide is designed for you to use in your search for the safety management solution that best suits your company’s needs.

  • Vector Solutions

Featured Whitepaper

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - June 2022

    June 2022


      Corporate Safety Culture Is Workplace Culture
      Keeping Workers Safe from Heat-Related Illnesses & Injuries
      Should Employers Consider Oral Fluid Drug Testing?
      Addressing Physical Differences
    View This Issue