Heavy Penalties for Contractor After Worker Fatally Injured in Trench Collapse

OSHA has cited Triple S Communications Inc. for violations of OSHA’s trenching and excavation standards after an employee was fatally injured in a trench collapse at a De Soto, Georgia, worksite.

The Moultrie, Georgia, telecommunications installation contractor faces $58,025 in penalties.

The employee was fatally injured while performing fiber-optic connections. OSHA initiated the inspection as a result of the incident and as part of the National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation.

OSHA cited the company for failing to:

  • Train employees on how to recognize trench safety hazards;
  • Have a competent person conduct trench inspections;
  • Provide a safe means of egress from the excavation; and
  • Prevent water accumulation inside the excavation.

OSHA also cited the employer for allowing employees to work in the 10-foot excavation without shoring, sloping or shielding trench walls, and failing to report a fatality within eight hours, as required.

OSHA Savannah Area Office Director, Margo Westmoreland, said, “Excavation collapses are among the most dangerous hazards in the workplace. Employers must be vigilant in identifying and mitigating these hazards. Training employees to recognize and control hazards can minimize serious and fatal injuries.”

Westmoreland added: “OSHA encourages employers to contact the agency for compliance assistance with trenching and excavation requirements.”

A recent study concluded that a single OSHA press release about fines levied against a company can have the same effect as 200-plus agency inspections when it comes to future compliance.

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