Trench Collapses Have Killed 23 Workers Since January

trench-injury-statsThe agency recently reported three separate incidents involving improperly-secured trenches, highlighting the dangers workers face when excavating.

The first incident, which occurred in June 2016, resulted in a worker’s death.

The agency cited KRW Plumbing $274,359 after a 33-year-old employee was crushed to death as he was digging soil out of the 12-foot trench in Washington Township, Ohio when the trench walls around him collapsed – burying him in thousands of pounds of dirt. Rescue workers recovered his body a few hours later.

While investigating the fatality, OSHA found KRW Plumbing did not provide trench cave-in protection, failed to protect workers from excavated material failing or rolling into a trench or failing from inside the trench wall, and failed to trained workers in recognizing trench hazards.

The second incident, which occurred on Nov. 19, 2016, resulted in the injury of a 28-year-old employee of W.F. Hann & Sons, who was installing sewer lines in an 8-foot trench in Seven Hills, Ohio on Nov. 19, 2016.

In a related incident, OSHA reported that an agency inspector saw a worker in a 15-foot deep unprotected trench in Berea, Ohio and ensured he was removed from danger. The agency has opened an investigation of the man’s employer, Trax Construction Co. of Wickliffe, as a result.

Howard Eberts, OSHA’s Cleveland area director, said in a statement: “Excavating companies need to re-examine their safety procedures to ensure they are taking all available precautions – including installing trench boxes, shoring and other means to prevent unexpected shifts in the soil that can cause walls to collapse.”

Trenching standards require protective systems on trenches deeper than 5 feet, and soil and other materials kept at least two feet from the edge of trench.

For more information on preventing cave-ins, view OSHA’s Construction eTool on Trenching and Excavation and Safety and Health Topics page on Trenching and Excavation.