OSHA issues $714,000 in citations for trenching violations

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. – A month after a 33-year-old worker died while working in an unprotected trench, U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors found another employee of the same Missouri plumbing contractor working in a similarly unprotected trench at another job site.

OSHA determined that, in both cases, Arrow Plumbing LLC of Blue Springs failed to provide basic safeguards to prevent trench collapse and did not train its employees to recognize and avoid cave-in and other hazards. Trench collapses are among the most dangerous hazards in the construction industry. In 2016, OSHA received reports of 23 deaths and 12 injuries nationwide in trench and excavation operations. In the first five months of 2017, 15 deaths and 19 injuries have been reported nationwide.
Chart titled Trenching Injuries & Deaths showing trench-related fatalities and trench-related reported injuries from 2012 to 2017 (as of June 1, 2017). 2012 had 8 fatalities, 2 reported injuries. 2013 had 15 and 2. 2014 had 11 and 13. 2015 had 11 and 16. 2016 had 23 and 12. 2017 (as of June 1, 2017) has 15 and 19.

"We call on all employers involved in excavation work to review their safety procedures, and to ensure that all workers are properly protected and trained on the job," said Kimberly Stille, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Regional Administrator in Kansas City, Missouri. "We support the efforts by the National Utility Contractors Association to raise awareness of trenching hazards in the U.S."

OSHA opened its first investigation of Arrow Plumbing after a 33-year-old employee died on Dec. 15, 2016, when a 12-foot trench collapsed at a home construction site in Belton. A second investigation began on Jan. 20, 2017, at a Kansas City work site where inspectors found the contractor's employees working in an unprotected trench at another residential work site. No employees were injured there.

OSHA found similar violations at both work sites, and they included the company's failure to install a support system to protect employees in an approximate 12-foot-deep trench from caving-in; training workers on how to identify hazards in trenching and excavation work, and providing a ladder at all times so employees could leave a trench.

Overall, OSHA cited Arrow Plumbing for six willful and eight serious violations of workplace safety standards and proposed $714,142 in penalties.

[View the full release on the OSHA website]




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