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Cal/OSHA cites contractor for fatal trench collapse

Company faces $66,000 for serious workplace safety violations

Posted January 24, 2019

Cal/OSHA has cited a construction company for serious workplace safety violations that resulted in the death of a worker when a 17-foot-deep trench he was in collapsed. The Agency determined that the company did not properly classify the soil and failed to correctly slope the excavation.

Two workers were installing sewer pipes at a residential construction site when a 30-foot-wide section of the trench’s sidewall collapsed. Only one of the workers was able to escape.

Cal/OSHA’s investigation found that the company failed to ensure the site was inspected by someone who was deemed competent by the employer and familiar with trench hazards, soil classification, and the appropriate safety requirements. The soil at the worksite was unstable, requiring an adequate protective system.

Cal/OSHA issued citations for two serious accident-related violations and one general violation with $66,000 in proposed penalties. One of the serious violations is classified as repeat. In August 2017, Cal/OSHA had cited the employer $24,670 for serious safety violations after conducting an inspection at another site. During that inspection, the Agency found that the employer had exposed its workers to serious hazards while working in a trench deeper than five feet without properly sloping or installing any adequate protective systems.

OSHA Rules for Construction Activities ManualJ. J. Keller's OSHA Rules for Construction Activities Manual provides requirements for key areas of compliance, including steel erection, cranes and derricks, fall protection, scaffolding, personal protective equipment, recording and reporting occupational injuries and illnesses, and electrical safety.


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